Yahoo! Prepares to Lay Off Thousands
Employees of Yahoo! working in the public relations, marketing, research, region-focused and other marginal business sectors will be holding their breath this month after the internet giant announced its plans to “restructure the company” and lay off thousands of workers, effective as early as late March.
“As we have indicated, our leadership is engaged in a process that will generate significant strategic change at Yahoo, but final decisions have not yet been made at this point,” a Yahoo! insider wrote in an email following the announcement on AllThingsDigital.com.
SEE RELATED STORIES FROM THE WDM CONTENT NETWORK:
The layoffs would be the first big move in the California-based company’s restructuring process since CEO Scott Thompson (formerly of PayPal) took over the post in January, Reuters said. The executive board has already experienced a good deal of reshuffling since former CEO Carol Bartz was fired in September and co-founder Jerry Yang resigned from the board of directors soon after Thompson’s appointment. Yesterday, AllThingsDigital reported that Yahoo Labs head Prabhavar Raghavan has departed the company to take a job with rival Google.
After Yahoo!’s profits nosedived by more than 20 per cent last year, the company hired the Boston Consulting Group to help with the restructuring effort, undergoing a “strategic review” to help determine the areas where they could cut costs and rebuilding the board of directors. Executives are also looking into selling off some of the company’s assets to China and Japan, according to Computerworld.
“Some parts will be cut away, leaving resources to go to better efforts,” said an anonymous insider who spoke to AllThingsDigital. “But this has to be a true change to get this company back on track.”
Beyond Limits: Cognitive AI in APAC
Courtesy of current estimates, it looks like Asia-Pacific AI will be worth US$136bn by 2025. Its governments and corporations invest more money than the rest of the world in AI tech, the data of its citizens is considered fair game, and its pilots are small-scale and, as a result, ruthlessly effective. This is why, according to Jeff Olson, Cognizant’s Associate Vice President for Projects, AI and Analytics, Digital Business and Technology, the APAC region ‘is right on the edge of an AI explosion’.
Now, startup Beyond Limits is pushing the boundaries of what AI can do, mirroring humans in its ability to find solutions with even limited information. As of this July, it’s partnered up with Mitsui, a global trading and investment company, to expand its impact in APAC.
How Does Beyond Limits Work?
Most AI companies claim that they can help businesses make better decisions. But many need astoundingly large stores of data to feed their information-hungry algorithms. Beyond Limits, in contrast, takes a different tack. Perfect data, after all, is largely a pipe dream kept alive by PhD students. In reality, systems must often make decisions from small, incomplete sets of intel.
But Beyond Limits’ AI is no black box. ‘When little to no data is available, Beyond Limits symbolic technologies rely on deductive, inductive, and abductive reasoning capabilities’, explained Clare Walker, Industry Analyst at Frost & Sullivan. While making these leaps in logic, however, the system also keeps track, ensuring that humans can review the AI’s ‘thought process’.
Why Partner With Mitsui?
Beyond Limits is built for specific applications such as energy, utilities, and healthcare—but lacks the extensive industry network of Mitsui. Partnering allows Beyond Limits to access a portfolio of firms specialising in minerals and metals, energy, infrastructure, and chemicals. ‘We’ve been working on this deal for several years’, said Mitsui’s Deputy General Manager Hiroki Tanabe. ‘Mitsui’s global portfolio and Beyond Limits’ AI technology will...deliver impact’.
In the first test of that dramatic statement, Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) will soon deploy Beyond Limits’ new system. If everything goes according to plan, LNG will optimise how it extracts and refines energy, making money for both itself and investors—including Mitsui. This, in fact, is Mitsui’s strategy: go digital and don’t look back.
Why Does This Matter?
Forty-five percent of Asia-Pacific companies surveyed in Cognizant’s thought leadership ebook consider themselves AI leaders. Positivity bias, that oh-so-common tendency of humans to position themselves as above average as compared to others, strikes again. (Most small companies fail to launch successful AI projects on their own.) And partly, this is because firms fail to integrate AI with industry expertise.
‘A large part of the focus on talent for AI today has been getting the people who are strong in mathematics, AI, and technologies’, said Olson. ‘But where you make your money out of AI projects is when you apply them to your business’. In short: APAC nations looking for ways to bridge the gap might follow Beyond Limits and Mitsui’s playbook—coupling startup AI with a corporate network.