Layoffs Will Come to Condé Nast, but When?

Now that those McKinsey-branded packets have been given to nearly every publisher and editor at Condé Nast, when will the inevitable layoffs begin?

It depends on who your boss is.

“The general consensus is, ‘Let’s get it over with,’” said an editorial-side staffer who will have to draw up pink slips at one magazine.

According to this source, that would mean executing layoffs immediately after the 2010 budget is finalized in the next few weeks.

But another insider said there’s no reason to do it right away.

“Everyone is different,” said this source, a business-side staffer at another magazine. “It’s all completely different. Some will do it in six weeks. Some will do it in two months.”

Technically, any editor and publisher can wait until the end of the fiscal year—the end of January—to break the news to staffers getting cut. The 25-ish percent reduced budget doesn’t kick in until Feb. 1.

This means layoffs could start in October at 4 Times Square and stretch out for several weeks.

Depending on your interpretation of things, this is what makes Condé Nast such a glorious place to work, or so frustratingly unruly. CEO Chuck Townsend and other executives at the company celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit of the place—each magazine organizes its own budget and is given a lot of freedom to run its own business. Yet, by giving each magazine so much autonomy, layoffs could take weeks as they’re doled out book by book. Compare this to, say, Time Inc., which announced on one day in October 2008 that there would be 600 layoffs at the company. It was a standard rip–the–band-aid–off approach to corporate communications.

It appears, at least for the moment, there isn’t any organized game plan at Condé Nast to adopt this strategy.

(A Condé Nast spokeswoman declined to comment.).

When we asked our editorial source, who plans to announce layoffs to staff immediately, if it was worthwhile to wait until December to cut staffers, the insider replied, “I don’t think there’s much appetite for that.”

When we asked our business-side source, who doesn’t plan to announce the layoffs right away, if it was worth it to do it sooner, that insider replied, “There’s no real rush. Depends on where they are on projects.”


  Layoffs Will Come to Condé Nast, but When?