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Lotus layoffs loom

IBM subsidiary Lotus announces that it is laying off or transferring about 30 of its 3,000 software developers.

IBM subsidiary Lotus has announced that it is laying off or transferring about 1 percent of its 3,000 software developers.

The move, which a Lotus spokesman called a "consolidation" effort, began yesterday, and only will affect Lotus's SmartSuite software developers based in the company's Mountain View, California, office.

Paul LaBelle, a spokesman for the software maker, took issue with earlier reports that Lotus is shutting down the SmartSuite division. He said an undisclosed number of the 300 development positions in the SmartSuite division are either being transferred to the company's Cambridge, Massachusetts, or Atlanta offices, or they are being eliminated altogether.

The layoffs, which began yesterday and will continue over the next five months, will include a severance package that LaBelle said is "at the high end of the industry average."

"It's just a matter of shifting resources to where they make the most sense," LaBelle said. "SmartSuite 98 is in full development and will be shipping in the first half of 1998."

SmartSuite 97 contains Windows 95 and Windows NT versions of Lotus's WordPro word processor, 1-2-3 spreadsheet, Approach database, Organizer personal information manager, Freelance Graphics, and SmartCenter--a new desktop tool that accesses information from the Internet.

The consolidation announcement comes on the heels of Lotus's unveiling of its Java-based business applets package, Lotus eSuite. The package, which includes email, word processing, a spreadsheet, and chart-presentation graphics, runs on any device that supports Java, including Net PCs. Lotus, along with its competitors Microsoft and Corel, has been shifting its production efforts to "thin" packages like eSuite, which allow users to opt for only those components they need.