Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said Thursday morning that his company did not leak false information that it would lay off 14,000 employees to mitigate fallout from its actual job-cut announcement.
Robbins called the insinuation "insulting" and the report "irresponsible" during an interview with CNBC’s Squawk on the Street.
"Any time we make these decisions, we do not make them lightly — we're dealing with people's lives," Robbins said. "We would never do that before we had an opportunity to speak to our own employees."
Robbins’ interview backed up an earlier statement from a Cisco spokesman to MarketWatch that the company "understands its disclosure responsibilities and refutes the suggestion."
Cisco said Thursday morning that it is laying off 5,500 staffers, much lower than the 14,000 reported by technology news site CRN. The website updated its post with an editor’s note with the correct number and a comment from a Cisco spokesperson saying, "Today we disclosed the correct number and you’re off by 8,500 roles."
The technology company stayed mum even as the story started gaining traction, according to a source familiar with the matter, who added that even speaking off-the-record in response to inquiries would have run afoul of SEC requirements.
MarketWatch and other financial publications had parsed the benefits planting high numbers would have for Cisco, such as diminishing the shock of the actual announcement. An analyst told Benzinga the job cuts could fund mergers and acquisitions.