On Bokee (BlogChina) Staff Layoff

Yesterday, I got confirmed information that Bokee (former blogchina.com) really cut about 1/3 of its headcount. Although the news came out in late Dec 2005, and there are a lot of reports, I still didn’t believe it was true until I personally verified the news.

History of Blogchina

Blogchina.com grow from one person – Fang Xingdong to about 400+ employees by the end of 2005. It was amazing speed of growth.

I was a member of cnblog.org, a more academic group blog that started almost the same time as blogchina in 2002. The two groups (blogchina and cnblog) held very opposite oppions – blogchina goes to the completely commerical way (people in cnblog critized that it is no longer blog. It was going to the wrong way from the blogging spirit), and cnblog focused more on academic/reseach/future side of blogging, and till now, it is still a group of less than 20 people. That was the difference.

The more explicit debate is about the translation of blog in Chinese. Isaac and others in cnblog tend to call it “Wangzhi” or web – log, or Internet diary (if you want me to directly translate it back to English word by word), and Fang Xingdong translated it as “Boke”, or “Broad People” or something like this…

Very Quick Expansion

As a blog service provider, I believe 20 – 30 people at most is the reasonable number. Later, they added a lot of content editors and then technical people. Maybe many of the people are neccessary to support the business. However, when the number exceeded 50, I was worried about the company. Later, during a meetup in Shanghai, Fang told us they have 200+ employees. I was so shocked, and asked how could you support so many people? At that time, there was no clear business model yet.

Later, the number raise to 300. I know something must be wrong. Either Fang or me, one must be completely wrong about the staffing plan.

The Cut

It was said (please note: This information is based on what I heard, and may be misleading, or different from the fact), that more than 100 people was informed to be laid off on the Thusday afternoon around X’mas. The order was effective immediately, which meant the employee need to leave the company the same time they received the information. The life of more than 100 people were affected.

People Strategy in China

This event is not uncommon in current China. The quick expansion of the business, the emerging of startup companies and quick flow of capital money can quickly create a large organization in China, but it is not stable. Especially due to the lower salary level in China compared to western world, and the general practices of many companies, the life of people changes every month.

Someone told me (also, not confirmed) that the rate for university students to get an offer after they graduate is a little bit more than 70% in Shanghai this year. That means, more than 20% university students cannot find a job in Shanghai after they graduate.

What does the number 70+% mean?

I remember, when I graduated, it was so hard to find a job that everyone had to fight aggressively in job markets to secure a position. Everyone (including newspaper, teachers, university official statements) said that the year 1999 was the worst year in the recent history of the university in term of employeement. Job was not was easy to get as previous year. Even in that situation, what was the employeement rate? 95%!

So I understand how tough it is for the students who graduate this year, not to mention those who don’t have a university degree.

That means, to offer a job helped many people (event it is only several month), at least they get several months of employement and get some real working experience, and makes them more competitive in the job market, but laying off is just too bad.

Tough Situation in Business World

Currently, many people’s lives are tough. People who have a job don’t know about the future, and people who do not have a job don’t have too much current life. So does the companies. This is the situation both employees or employers need to face. The good thing is, the ecomony of the country is still growing and changing is an essential part of it.

10 thoughts on “On Bokee (BlogChina) Staff Layoff

  1. Dobel

    It is good to know that we graduated in the same year.

    By the way, I saw a guy called Michael ANTI in a BBC programme. I couldn’t help but wondering if that is the one I knew from this blog. That guy was talking about penetrating the internet firewall set up by the Chinese governement. To me he sounds a bit cynical.

  2. Jian Shuo Wang

    Actually, bokee is not a pure blog hosting company. It provide much more than that, something like sina.com.cn portals. Sina has more editors than Bokee.

    Dobel, what you said is true.

  3. jqian

    Cut 1/3 for a blogger? They should cut more. In the US, 400 people can form a company doing billions of annual business.

    Yes, 400 people for a blogging company is simply unheard of and extremely crazy. Even a sucessful company like Juniper only employ about only 9 times more people than this no-name company does.

  4. Oncerest

    Bokee’s portal is really amazing. I guess they couldn’t figure out what they want to put, so they put everything there. Bokee, don’t you think there are too much on the first portal page?

  5. LayoffGossip

    People always hate to talk about when they are laid off. But as it has become every day’s news headline since Yahoo started it with cutting 1500 of its task force last year, now a need of platform has been in demand where people can express their selves in words how they are feeling about their company, whey the got laid off was that justified or not.

    And every thing they want to tell anonymously.And http://www.layoffgossip.com is providing you that platform.

  6. Layoffs

    People always hate to talk about when they are laid off. But as it has become every day’s news headline since Yahoo started it with cutting 1500 of its task force last year, now a need of platform has been in demand where people can express their selves in words how they are feeling about their company, whey the got laid off was that justified or not.

    And every thing they want to tell anonymously.And http://www.layoffgossip.com is providing you that platform.

  7. JobOutlets

    Everyone is expecting recession getting over soon. I have a very close friend, who graduated from Harvard. Worked for ML for over 8 years, recently he’s been “right sized” too, despite of his outstanding performance and the increasing revenue he generated. OMG, now the banking industry is badly hurt, how long it would take for those financial background guys like him get back to the job market. Banking jobs are not there as much as before as easily seen on http://www.joboutlets.com and other job sites in the region

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