News | July 7, 1999

Sarnoff Lays Off 10% of Workforce

By: Tom Butts

Television pioneer Sarnoff Corp. (Princeton, NJ) is laying off 80 employees, comprising 10% of its workforce.

Company spokesman Tom Lento says some of the layoffs, which began in March, are through attrition and retirements. He says the company has been losing money since last December but that they expect to be profitable by August when the cutbacks are completed. Two thirds of the cutbacks are in administrative personnel and one third include some program managers in R&D and technical support. Lento says the actions were taken to protect Sarnoff's core business—contract research, which is 40% government and 60% commercial.

"We want to improve the efficiency of the administrative staff so we can stay responsive," Lento says.

Although Sarnoff is synonymous with television, only two of its ten business units are directly involved with broadcasting or the Internet, according to Lento.

Sarnoff, a subsidiary of SRI Corp., a Menlo Park, CA-based research lab, is a spin-off of RCA, which was sold to GE in 1987. The subsidiary was named Sarnoff in honor of its founder David Sarnoff in 1997. David Sarnoff, often referred to as "the General" was one of the early pioneers of television, building a research and manufacturing empire through RCA.

Sarnoff also was instrumental in the development of standards for digital television in the US through its work with the Grand Alliance in the early and mid 1990's.