In a striking indication of how far Barnes & Noble will go in the process of reinventing itself, B&N chairman Len Riggio has fired himself and his brother, vice-chairman Steve Riggio. According to a memo to all B&N employees, Riggio said that the Riggios were told of the decision late yesterday morning and escorted from company headquarters in New York City after being allowed to collect personal items from their offices.Subscribe to their newsletter or just read up on their archives (because they're great).
Riggio called the decision a "difficult" one and part of the ongoing process of "remaking B&N into a 21st-century retailer that can meet all digital challenges." In an effort to find resources that can be invested in the growing digital side of the business, the company has regularly looked at personnel cost structures, including "salaries, benefits, long-term liabilities and deferred compensation," he wrote. "As many of you know, in the past several years we had identified significant cost savings at the store level and among managers and buyers on the book side of the business. Eventually we looked at the executive level and discovered extraordinary possibilities for savings. Frankly, I'm not sure why we didn't look there earlier." He noted, too, that the Riggios' departure may make the company more attractive to the groups that have unenthusiastically considered purchasing the company since it put itself up for sale last year.
Riggio thanked the Riggios for their many years of service and noted in particular that Len Riggio had nearly singlehandedly built the company from a college bookstore near New York University into the world's largest bookstore. Riggio recalled that Riggio had bought Barnes & Noble and B. Dalton Bookseller, the latter of which immediately made the company into a national, household name. He remembered, too, that Riggio had bought B&N College from Riggio, bought B&N.com from Riggio, bought GameStop from Riggio, bought Software, Etc. from Riggio, bought Babbage's from Riggio and bought perhaps a few other entities from himself that he kept hidden from the board. He called it "a stroke of genius" to have family foundations rent various properties to B&N and described Riggio as "crafty but adorable. Ya gotta love the guy!"
Riggio also noted that in connection with the two layoffs, Barnes & Noble will take a one-time charge of $400 million.
Because the Riggio brothers' B&N e-mails were shut down after their firing, Shelf Awareness was unable to contact with them. But at 4 a.m., we received an e-mail from WorldsLargest&BiggestBookseller@aol.com, saying, "You know I don't read the press and I don't care what the press says about me, I mean, what the press says about Mr. Leonard Riggio (which reminds me that I didn't like the phrasing in the third sentence of the story you had on the Nook last Tuesday), but you have to acknowledge that the guy is pure genius. Everything he touches is gold, even his parachute. And I have to insist once again that you not call that former employer a chain. Instead, my friend, it is a network of booksellers, may God save them all from Ron Burkle."
At 4:10 a.m., LuckyBro@aol.com wrote, "What Len said. I mean what that other guy wrote you."
Labels: April Fools, Barnes and Noble, BN, Riggio, Shelf Awareness