Welcome to Planet Real World

We’re having a bit of a Tech meltdown. I’ve seen this one before. Got the t-shirt. Been my third, at least. What’s different about this one is the sheer number of spoiled tech workers. I’ve seen videos from Twitter and Google employees. This is the latest one I’ve seen:

The Twitter one was nearly identical. Not a lot. of work going on there.

Then, the day of the long knives happens.

Sometimes life fixes a shit sammich for you and you have no choice but to eat it. That said, she’s young, she’ll bounce. As a woman, she can go live with the parents, have some dude wife her up. If she has any actual talent, she’ll land somewhere. A dude with a wife and kids has no such options. Something like this can blow their lives apart – literally. I know at least two where that is exactly what happened, back in the day.

I’m as sociopath about such things, even more so after getting laid off from Lucent. In all honesty, I should have bailed long before it happened. I could see what was going on. Anyone could. The tech economy was melting down, they (and others, made epic critical errors). When it got really bad, the boomers there were throwing any GenX they could under the bus to keep their cush gig. It was ugly. There was a useless sales guy there, who at 56 with decades of service, was fully retirement eligible, fully vested. My dad had that at 55, grabbed it, and went happily out the door. This dude called the boss and begged not to get laid off. He’d have to sell his lake house. To my credit, he told the moron to never talk about that ever again when there are men with wives and kids being let go.

Must have worked though. The boss was the same vintage as the idiot salesguy, who I had dubbed ‘Dr. Stupid’. Dr Stupid was one of the last to go, probably because they were pals . The very last was a 35 year old perpetual student, who became a sales engineer after one year working as a warehouse order fullfilment monkey for a competitor. Reason? He became the big boss’ bitch. His assistant that did powerpoints, spreadsheets, and ran meetings for the old boy. You see, secretaries that he was used to were long gone at that point.

I think I went through six rounds of layoffs before the bell tolled for me. The second time, I was traveling and my mobile wasn’t working. I figured I was out of network. When I got back to the office, I called the carrier, who told me my account was cancelled and I should call my IT. So I did that. They said, You’re part of the FMP, there’s nothing we can do.

FMP? WTF is that?

Force.Management.Plan. Laid off.

I went to my VP boss and said that was a shitty way to find out. If it’s true I want my package and I’m outta here.

He fixed it.

The way it worked is they’d announce a layoff. On the day of the long knives, you’d have to be at your desk to get the call – You’re in, or You’re out. Each time it was the same.

First time it happened when I got to Dallas, a coworker asked what I was going to do on that day. I said, I have a script that’ll wipe my hard drive. I’ll fire it off, hand in my crap, and go to breakfast. He said “what if you aren’t laid off?”

I’ll go to breakfast then. The people that are getting whacked have a right to leave with a little dignity. They don’t need me there gawping at them with nothing to say. At least nothing I’d mean. One thing I got from it was a promise to myself that I’d never be a 50 something cowering in my cube, hoping to keep a job that I mostly hate.

The best thing anyone told me was a dude in my Knights of Columbus council at the time, telling me I wasn’t like those guys that got laid off and vanished or were in a panic. “No sir” he said “You went out with your head held high”.

And why not? It was nothing I did. It was general incompetence and greed that made it happen.

So why is it happening now?

Same damn reason.

“In a conglomerate like Carlson Industries, It’s not the plusses and the minuses. It’s the plusses and plusses as long as the minuses are managed correctly”

Lillian Carlson, WKRP in Cinncinati

That quote above was from an episode where the Manager’s mother, the station owner, was about to switch to a news-talk format just as the station became profitable. Oddly enough, at the time that change would’ve made the station uber successful.

A better explanation is here.

It’s not the revenue. It’s the profit margin. These companies aren’t all that profitabe, considering their income.

“It’s a reset on what it means to be a steward of investor capital”

Matt Slotnick, on twitter

These companies are no longer in the startup phase, and that phase lasted way too long.

But back to the distraught googlers and twits, and all the others. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. These companies are in the business to make money. They aren’t making all that much and with inflation, it’s even less than it looks. So if you have a high paid gig, and you spend half the day on bullshit like massages, meditation rooms, free meals, and snacks, you better learn how to work, or start looking for another gig.

“What’s wrong with Lucent? They give you nice office to come to. You have a cool laptop. You get paid well. They don’t ask you to do any work…”

A middle eastern colleage of mine at Lucent that was running his real estate empire from his cube during the meltdown.

The company I work for has bought another company of almost equal size. They borrowed money to do the deal. Each company has hundreds of millions of dollars they need to cut as part of the deal. I’m writing this Monday night. The deal closes tomorrow. We have a company wide call at 7AM tomorrow.

There’s no point wringing hands and doing tik-tok videos. Whatever they are going to do, the executives already have plans. They are simply going to execute them. So, no doubt, I’ll know where this is all going by the time anyone reads this. I can guess. It could go either way, far as I can tell.

But one thing for sure, I won’t be cowering at my desk. I’ll simply move on.