HOUSTON – At least one Enron Corp. employee who was among thousands laid off this week is keeping his sense of humor while trying to help former colleagues land jobs elsewhere.
Jose Lazo, an analyst with Enron for two years, joined forces with a Techxans, a Houston-based business networking group, to launch a Web site that spoofs the former energy giant's slick corporate site while offering message boards, job information and a forum for friendship for co-workers thrust into unemployment.
The site, www.enronX.org, displays images similar to those on the company's site, www.enron.com. However, instead of a sleek cyclist racing in a block design, the new site shows a beefy football player with a bulging gut, standing idle.
The corporate site also shows the company slogan, "Discover the power of Why," while the new site says, "Discover the power of why Not."
"I'm trying to bring a little happiness into this potentially unhappy holiday season," Lazo said of www.enronX.com
The site isn't all satire.
Enron's Houston headquarters cut its work force to 3,500 from 7,500 on Monday, the day after the company filed one of the largest Chapter 11 bankruptcies ever. Those moves capped a whirlwind downward spiral prompted by questionable financial strategies and evaporation of investor confidence and willing partners for its flagship trading operation.
Lazo said the site is intended to give workers a spot in cyberspace to congregate as they look for jobs and go their separate ways.
The site offers links to other energy companies that may be hiring and schedules of upcoming job fairs in Houston. It also is promoting a "pink slip" party on Friday, much like many in high-tech centers held in the aftermath of the dot-com crash, so ex-Enron employees can gather for the first time since Monday to commiserate and look to the future.
"My friends and I at Enron are desperately seeking new job opportunities and feel that it is our personal obligation to right the wrongs of a handful of individuals who have destroyed our careers," he said.
Another former Enron employee last week set up a separate Web site for laid-off workers. But the site launched by Brandon Rigney, the Web master for five years at Enron.com, eschews the spoof to be a conduit for former employees to maintain contact and access job information.
The site's address isn't being released to the public pending installation of security measures.
Rigney said he was among about 200 people who anticipated layoffs and resigned last week when Enron rival Dynegy Inc. walked away from an $8.4 billion plan to buy the energy trader.
He quickly created the site so Enron workers would walk out with a convenient way to keep in touch.
"I thought it was terrible that we might all lose touch with one another after all we'd been through," Rigney said. "I felt that layoffs could happen just any time. Almost with a sense of panic I thought I had to get this thing up."
Lisa Hoot, chairwoman for Techxans, said Compaq layoffs earlier this year prompted the group to hold its first pink slip party in June, where recruiters, human resource professionals and companies seeking workers are invited to socialize with — and perhaps hire — the newly jobless.
Enron's layoffs this week provided "a definite need" for another party, she said.