This week on TechCrunch: Layoffs, movie memes, PlayD'oh and Mike Arrington – the hardest working man in technology

office-spaceAs any industry analyst will tell you, since its two journalists were returned from North Korea, has been woefully overstaffed. The company simply doesn’t require that many employees to edit YouTube clips for its audience of jobless hipster doucheballs who have fallen asleep in front of the television.

And so it wasn’t entirely surprising this week when TechCrunch reported on a ‘bloodbath‘  at the company, with 80 people being laid-off across all departments.

Current’s COO Joanna Drake Earl (who is herself three separate people) insisted to Leena that the layoffs aren’t a ‘cost-cutting measure’ but rather a ‘shift in programming strategy’. In most other companies, this would be classic corporate bullshit, but in Current’s case Joanna, Drake and Earl might actually have a point. After all, by creating 80 new unemployed people – unemployed people who actually know what Current is – they’ve just doubled the target audience for their programming. How’s that for a convenient truth?

More layoffs of the week: It gets worse
Even outside of Current, it’s been a pretty horrible week with layoffs, layoffs and more layoffs. Adobe has Photoshopped  out 9% of its workforce, Sprint is disconnecting 2,500, EA has decided that 1,500 of employees have no more continues and the Guardian / continues paying the karmic price for axing my NSFW column with 100 more losses across editorial and commercial departments. Ouch.

Still, it’s alright for some of the week: Michael Arrington edition
With so many people losing their jobs just before the holiday season, it’s important that those of us who still have a regular paycheck are seen to be working hard – and not rubbing our luck in the faces of those less fortunate. I’m doing my part, of course, with my sympathetic handling of the Current layoffs, and it’s nice to see that Arrington is keeping his nose to the grindstone too. Let’s take a quick look at how the hardest-working man in technology spent his week, according to his posts on TechCrunch…

  • Monday: Celebrated FishVille (the Zynga game that Mike regularly complains has sapped his free time) being returned to Facebook after Zynga agreed to pull all advertising offers from the game until further notice.
  • TuesdayDicked around in Road tested a Tesla all day, before spending the evening dicking around on reviewing new vampire game, City of Eternals.
  • WednesdayThe Crunchies are Coming!
  • Thursday: Spent the day catching up on parts 2-4 of the brilliant Sales Guy vs Web Dude videos. Oh yeah.
  • Friday: Realised that he’s been so busy during the week that he hadn’t weighed in on Erick’s reporting of Rupert Murdoch’s threat to remove his news sites from Google’s index.

Phew, it’s tough at the top.

MG’s news meme of the week: Movie tie-in edition
Eagled-eyed readers might have noticed that while Mike was living it up in the Tesla, MG was having a little fun of his own. Perhaps inspired by his story on how Netflix is about to make a deal with the devil to prevent its subscribers from getting hold of new release DVDs, the former Hollywood-dweller went into movie-reference overload.

After the Netflix story (illustrated by a still from Dumb and Dumber) came a movie-title-packed post about Apple adding a ton of HD movie content to its iTunes store, a  story on Apple ‘Bathing’ in profits complete with a still of Julia Roberts in the bath from Pretty Woman, a 2000-word treatise on Twitter’s new retweet functionality that was basically one huge Forest Gump reference and – most blatant of all – a review of the new site launched to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Fight Club.

Of course, only a cynic would suggest that, with all the layoffs in the Valley, MG might be laying the groundwork for a return to his old career in tinsel town.

Victory continues to be ours of the week: ScamVille, part 3,983
To be fair, if TechCrunch has been having a little fun this week, it’s only because we deserve it. After all, we’re still riding high on the back of our huge and unequivocal victory in the ScamVille scandal. Sure, the occasional bitter commentator has found fault in some of our reporting in the past. But even they can’t deny that, through our commitment to exposing Internet scams in all their many guises, TechCrunch has single-handedly sparked a chain of events that will save the Internet industry, and by extension the world.

Hyperbole? Pft – let’s look at a few more of this week’s headlines…

Case closed. You’re welcome, the world.

PlayD’oh of the week: Social gaming, ftw; traditional gaming, less so
It’s Friday, so let’s end with some good news, particularly for our poor wounded friends in the social gaming arena.

Playdom – responsible for some of the most popular MySpace games – has raised a seriously impressive $43 million round from New Enterprise Associates, Rick Thompson, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Norwest Venture Partners, on a $260 million pre-money valuation. Woo!

Meantime, over in the UK, Steve O’Hear reports that Playfire – a social network for gamers – has raised $2.1m in Series A funding, lead by Atomico Ventures (Niklas and Janus from Skype), in conjunction with Bebo founder Michael Birch,’s Brent Hoberman and others. Yay!

Finally, not to be outdone by all the other Play-whatever companies, Playfish has finally completed its acquisition by Electronic Arts for $300m in cash and stock, plus a $100 million earnout. This is of course a fantastic deal, not just for Playfish but also for Electronic Arts who immediately celebrated their new prize (and their decent second quarter earnings) by….

...laying off 1,500 employees.


Commenter of the week: Outsourced to Arrington edition
And finally, with so much time on his hands this week, Mike even took over my job in finding this week’s best TechCrunch commenter. In fact, he went one step further by actually replying to her. Thanks, Mike!

Have a good weekend – I’m off to get fired.