Pink-slip parties come to Europe

Yet another phenomenon from the U.S. dot-com scene is making it to Europe: pink-slip parties.

The first one, organized by German food delivery Web portal AG, was held Monday in Berlin. Next week, on May 8, Amsterdam will see its first pink-slip party. The motto: "Yesterday you were worth US$1 million on paper. Today you're calculating how much you can collect from unemployment."

Organizer of the event in the Dutch capital is First Tuesday Ltd., the networking group that -- before the new economy bubble burst -- matched entrepreneurs with venture capitalists at meetings held every first Tuesday of the month in cities around the world. The aim of the pink-slip party is to match recruiters with jobless ex-dot-com employees. If the Dutch pink-slip party is a success, First Tuesday might organize others around Europe.

"We want to stress that dot-com job experience is good, that it isn't something you should remove from your resume," said Tim Lunn, organizer of First Tuesday Amsterdam.

Proportionately the number of dot-com layoffs in Europe is similar to the number in the U.S., said Lunn.

"Only about 20 percent tops of what happens (job cuts) becomes public, there is more happening under the water than you realize," he said. He noted that companies like Cisco Systems Inc., Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV, and Siemens AG, also are present at "a significant level" in the new economy -- and job cuts are hitting these companies as well. Former employees of these companies are also welcome at the pink-slip event.

The character of the meetings will be more formal than those held in the U.S.

"There is a clear cultural difference. In the U.S. people show up wearing big hats screaming for a certain job. 'Pink-slip party,' admittedly, is a partly sensationalist term. But we can still make strong statements without being boring," said Lunn.

For most Europeans "pink-slip" is a new term, a notice of termination is typically given in person followed by a formal letter on company letterhead.

Amsterdam is a trial run for First Tuesday, which has been struggling since the various local organizers bought the organization from an Israeli investment company in February.

"We want to see how this (the pink-slip party) works with a European background. If First Tuesday wants to stay relevant we have to see how it goes, it's got to have support, but there is a demand," said Lunn.

Why is First Tuesday, a catalyst of the new economy with its capital oriented meetings, the organization to stage these quasi job fairs?

"In my mind it has been over a year ago that First Tuesday was only about getting start-ups funded," explained Lunn. "Now we are a networking hub for professionals in the new economy."

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