March 6, 2009

Silicon Valley unemployment rate jumps to 9.4%

Silicon Valley’s unemployment rate jumped more than a full point, to 9.4 percent, from December to January, the biggest increase since at least 1990, the earliest year for which the state Employment Development Department has comparable data.

The Santa Clara-San Benito county area lost 14,900 jobs to total 897,000, a 2 percent decrease in the number of jobs in the past 12 months.

The primary monthly job losses were in the retail sector, which lost 3,200 jobs after the holidays, and the trade, transportation and utilities sector, which lost 4,000 jobs.

The professional and business services sector dropped 3,500 jobs.

Source: San Jose Mercury News

November 19, 2008

SiPort Shooting (Update 11/19/2008): More info about the shooter (Jing Hua Wu)

According to rumor: “Jing Hua Wu, the engineer who police say fatally shot three executives at a Santa Clara startup company last week just hours after being fired, spent the last few years amassing a large portfolio of investment properties.
According to public records from eight counties in three states, Wu and his wife own at least 19 homes and vacant lots worth more than $2.4 million”.

Update: 11/19/2008, Rumor confirmed:The engineer owns more than a dozen investment properties whose value apparently has diminished in the real estate crisis.” ~San Jose Mercury News

Update 11/19/2008, San Jose Mercury News: “Ex-SiPort engineer formally charged with murders; slain CEO’s family gathers“:

According to San Jose Mercury News: “Clad in a bright yellow smock indicating his confinement in the county jail’s mental health ward, former SiPort test engineer Jing Hua Wu was formally charged Wednesday with three counts of murder in the gunshot slayings of colleagues who met with him after he was fired.“:

Jing Wu (ex SiPort engineer) court hearing

Jing Wu (ex SiPort engineer) court hearing

Photo: San Jose Mercury News

Update 11/21/2008, San Jose Mercury News (“911 calls offer glimpse of SiPort tragedy; suspect had work, money problems”):

“On the dispatch recordings, two employees calling from SiPort identify the shooter right away and say they saw the 47-year-old Wu with a gun. They told dispatchers Wu fled the building wearing a baseball cap and beige clothing and drove off.The first call came in at 3:52 p.m. and the longest call was 3 minutes and 40 seconds. When police arrived, they found three managers dead inside: Marilyn Lewis, 67, of San Jose, head of human resources; Brian Pugh, 47, of Los Altos, vice president of operations; and Sid Agrawal, 56, of Fremont, chief executive and co-founder.

While speculation centers on Wu’s employment problems at SiPort, property records show he also was facing significant financial woes due to the real estate downturn. While he looked prosperous on paper, with properties in California, Arkansas and Washington, several are worth less than he paid for them. And records also indicate that he also is tapping heavily into the equity in his Mountain View home.

It appears that Wu qualifies for a taxpayer-funded legal defense for several reasons. His investments are underwater; he is in jail without bail until the trial; and he is not earning a wage. A private attorney in a triple homicide would typically cost 500,000 to $750,000.

Wu invested in two houses in comfortable suburban neighborhoods of Vancouver, Wash., with good schools in 2005 and 2007 — near the top of the then-booming market, said Vancouver Realtor Lisa Costa. At the time, property in the city was appreciating rapidly, with equity in some locations ranging from 10 to 25 percent.

But when the bubble burst, Wu was caught holding the properties.

For instance, Wu bought one of the houses — on Northeast 145th Street — for $280,426 in May 2007. Its assessed value quickly shot up to $308,000, Costa said. But the latest assessment puts its value at only $276,000 — less than Wu paid 18 months ago.

“I’m sure when he bought it, he thought he was going to make money,” Costa said, “but the market shifted virtually overnight.”

Wu also owes more than the current value of two houses he bought before the crash in an affluent gated retirement community in Hot Springs, Ark., according to Realtor Keitha Turner of Village Pro.

Both houses in Hot Springs Village are now worth less than when he bought them in 2000 and 2005, despite the considerable amenities of the gated community, including nine golf courses and 11 lakes in the heart of the scenic Ouachita Mountains.

He bought one house in 2000 for $198,000; the other in 2005 for $215,000. “If you could even find a buyer, with so many houses in the Village for sale,” Turner said, “his would probably go for $10,000 to $20,000 less than he paid.”

The crimes Wu is accused of have reverberated there. One of Wu’s renters demanded Saturday that Turner change the locks on Wu’s property, she said, for fear the test engineer would show up and kill them.

In fact, Wu has been locked inside the mental health ward of the main county jail since his arrest. In another of the 911 calls, a SiPort employee, said he knew who had done the shootings.

Caller: I heard shots fired and I saw a gun. The guy’s name is Jing, I don’t know his last name, (pause) Wu.

The caller also talks about what happened moments before the gun went off. “He was in an argument with two employees.”

When the dispatcher asks if the employees know who the shooter is, the caller doesn’t hesitate.

The answer is: Yes.”

Update-2, 11/21/2008, 911Audio (SJ Mercury News links):

  • They’re shot in the head’
  • ‘I saw a gun’
  • ‘We’re on the way’
  • Update-3, 11/21/2008 YouTube videos regarding Siport shooting:

    November 18, 2008

    SiPort shooting after lay-off (Update 11/17/2008) “The reports of layoffs at SiPort, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based company that prompted killing of three executives are wrong, according to a statement issued by the company. Like me, everyone assumed that there were layoffs and that led to the shooting. Last week Silicon Valley was shocked by the shooting of three SiPort executive by alleged killer, Jing Hua Wu who is currently under arrest by the Santa Clara Police Department. Wu was terminated individually and not as part of a general layoff.”

    Full story “SiPort Honors Victims – Trusted Entrepreneurs and Valued Colleagues

    San Jose Mercury News: “Companies can take precautions to prevent workplace violence“:”

  • Don”t fire people on Fridays. Angry workers have all weekend to stew and can”t do anything about finding a new job.
  • Don”t let a fired employee back in the building.
  • Make sure everyone who controls access to the building knows who has been terminated.
  • Consider hiring a security consultant to handle layoffs.” ~ SJ Mercury News
  • November 17, 2008

    TC: 13 Employees Laid Off At VoIP Startup Jaxtr “13 Employees Laid Off At VoIP Startup Jaxtr
    Jaxtr, a startup that offers VoIP serivce as well as a social network, has laid off 13 of its employees and has been added to the layoff tracker. As of June 2008 the company had 35 employees (we’ve asked the company for the current count). Update: The company now has 30 full time employees.”

    Full story

    November 16, 2008

    Yahoo Layoffs Set for December 10

    “Yahoo said that the previously announced layoffs at the Internet giant are set to take effect on December 10.
    Yahoo confirmed it would cut it workforce by “at least” 10 percent of its global workforce–or about 1,400 to 1,500–on October 21, as part of its third-quarter earnings call. But it did not give an exact date for the action.”

    Full story

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