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IT Confidential

IBM began taking layoff "actions" last week, a spokeswoman for the company says. She wouldn't confirm numbers but did say the actions involved both the server and software groups. Lee Conrad, head of Alliance@IBM, an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America, a union that has been trying to recruit IBM workers, says sources in the server division were told 1,000 workers would be let go. Alliance@IBM is expecting layoffs in Global Services this week and in the microelectronics division next week. Global Services will be hit pretty hard, Conrad says. The layoffs weren't a surprise: IBM's new chief, Sam Palmisano, alluded to a reduction of the company's workforce in discussions with financial analysts this month about the company's disappointing first-quarter results. IBM's goal in the workforce reduction isn't known. Reported numbers range from 8,000 to 20,000 workers, depending on whether the company sells off various divisions. The IBM spokeswoman declined to "speculate on future actions."

The Independent Computer Consultants Association is holding its annual national conference next week in Denver. The association, headquartered in St. Louis with chapters across the country, represents some 1,500 mostly mom-and-pop consulting shops and is one of the most vocal opponents of the controversial H-1B visa program, which allows non-native workers, the majority of whom work in the IT industry, into the United States. A keynote speaker at the association's conference will be Rep. Thomas Tancredo, R-Colo., a strong proponent of immigration reform.

Tsvi Gal, one of the true pioneers in IT, was hired last week by Warner Music Group as its senior VP and CIO. Gal, who will report to executive VP and CFO Helen Murphy, will supervise the integration of the music group's global systems and "maximize technology opportunities within AOL Time Warner," according to a statement from the company. Previously, Gal was president of AT&T's E-business subsidiary, ATT.com. Before that, Gal held a variety of CIO and chief technology officer titles at an A-list of financial institutions, including ABN Amro Bank, Bank of America, and Merrill Lynch, and is credited with designing and implementing one of the first online banking systems when he was VP of IT at Wells Fargo Bank from 1987 to 1993.

Steve Cakebread is fly-fishing in Montana this week. But next week, he'll take over as CFO of Salesforce.com, the online sales-force automation software provider. Salesforce hired Cakebread from the CFO spot at desktop design-software vendor Autodesk. "It was really hard to leave Autodesk," he says. "But I haven't worked with a private company and grown it into a large business." Cakebread has had a 25-year career focused on global finance and technology, and says he was intrigued by the success of Salesforce's hosted-software delivery model. Salesforce has had its share of executive departures during the last several months, most notably the exit of former CEO John Dillon late last year. Former CFO Andy Hyde left two months ago.

Falstaff said, "Discretion is the better part of valor." Ask Jerry Miller. Up until about a week ago, Miller was senior VP and CIO of Sears, Roebuck. But then Sears revealed plans to acquire $1.6 billion clothing cataloger Lands' End. Miller abruptly left the retailer. There's been no official comment on Miller's departure and no insight into what really happened. But let's face it, the database-integration project alone will be a doozy. Miller was promoted to the VP and CIO position in December 1998 and previously served as VP of logistics systems for Sears. Don Zimmerman, Sears' VP of IT services, has assumed the position of acting CIO. Lands' End CIO John Loranger remains in his role for the time being. And because Sears' acquisition of Lands' End won't be completed until mid-June, a Lands' End spokeswoman says, "It's way too early to know how the two companies will integrate."

I've tried to live by that old Nietzsche one-liner: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. But, frankly, I don't see how that thesis tests out. So mostly I say: Shut up and deal. Or shut up and (I mean, please) send me an industry tip to jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about layoffs in the IT industry, the H-1B visa program, or fly-fishing in Montana, meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.

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