IBM Watson employees at various locations around the country found out Friday night they are losing their jobs.
Watson Health, one of IBM’s bests for the future of the tech giant on cognitive computing and artificial intelligence, is laying off workers in its Watson health group. Among those losing their jobs are some workers in RTP, according to reports from employees.
IBM spent some $2.6 billion to acquire Truven Health Analytics in a deal that closed last April. IBM touted the acquisition as being a boost to its efforts to turn the Watson supercomputer system into a bigger player in healthcare.
The layoffs are the latest bad news for IBM and Watson, which was criticized recently by a top Wall Street analyst who questioned whether Watson can hit the goals set by IBM chair and CEO Ginni Rometty.
IBM also recently reported a quarterly loss in revenue, stretching a streak to 21 consecutive quarters.
According to information sent to WRAL TV and WRAL TechWire as well as posts at the “Watching IBM” Facebook site, many of those let go were contractors.
They reportedly will receive two weeks severance pay.
WRAL TechWire has reached out to IBM for comment.
Posting job cut news
“A bunch of contractors in the Watson Health group (former Truven people) got axed today in RTP,” a tipster wrote late Friday evening.
“Not sure if this affects other locations or if any FTE’s got cut. I was one of them, and the number I heard was 15, at least in our area.
“Weird, because the project we were on was one that everybody kept saying was one of the highest priority ones in WH. As late as yesterday they were stomping up a fit about making an upcoming release date in Sept. Guess they’re gonna miss their date now.”
A post at Watching IBM, a site set up to monitor worker actions at Big Blue after a failure to organize IBM employees into a union, also noted that affected workers were trying to complete an unnamed project.
“IBM Watson Health had just laid off an undisclosed amount of workers.
“This was referred to as IBM’s ‘moonshot’ and was going to save IBM. This layoff cut software developers from IBM’s Truven Health, who were racing to a September release of a new product. …
“Those affected have 2 weeks until their jobs end.”
Added another post:
“Truven Health, a part of Watson Health just laid off 2/3’s of it’s contract workforce. Contract recruiters were told to hold off until 5:00 on Friday to inform their workers.
“These were contractors who were promised to become FTEs in 6 months when first hired, then were promised by the end of this year.
“This was IBMs ‘moonshot,’ and obviously has failed miserably. Off to greener pastures.”
IBM operates one of its largest corporate campuses in RTP and employs several thousand people across North Carolina.
(This story will be updated, pending developments.)