Day of the Long Knives

My company had some days of the long knives this week.

Fortunately, my boss told our group they were coming, and also that we probably wouldn’t take a hit. Having little attention span for such things, I promptly forgot until I saw the first of my friends send a goodbye email. Then we had a powwow to be officially told what went on. When we acquired a company last year, we were told there would be “right sizing”, but it would be mostly them, not us. Sure.

For some reason, this company still thinks that the portal I managed still exists, so I’ve been getting a running list of the fallen from my former company – the one that the big rainbow corp bought.

It was a bloodbath for us. They loosed some key players, most of which I’ve known for 15 years, some nearly 30. One a geeks geek support dude that has worked with the product since the late 80s. He’s who I think of when I describe the IT guys – guys that leave the office, and go home to their network and do the same work for fun. The other, THE architect of the product. The product manager, the interface designer, and key sales folks.

In the words of one of my friends, a manager – “It’s difficult to articulate how much of an impact this is, both personally and professionally. I have no platitudes to offer. This hurts”

I’m normally a sociopath about such things. And I’ve seen this coming for some time. But it’s still bothersome. These were men and women with families. At least two of which my age. These are friends I’ve had since I joined in 2005.

Months ago, I connected a ton of dots that told me the product I’ve supported for over 15 years was going to die.

First was the opening webinar when we were bought. The CEO flat out said this was the best way to acquire talent. Not how great the products were, not how they’d fit in the company. That he scored top notch engineers and support people.

Weird thing. Prolly nuthin’ though…

Second was a conversation with my boss, who told me to look at this one package and asked if I’d like to support it. I looked it over and when she asked me about it, I said something on the order of “I really don’t have an attention span for products like these”. To which she replied, uncharacteristically, “We’ll you f-ing better get one since your product isn’t paying the bills”. First time I’ve heard the boss voice. Last time I want to hear it. In general, I’m not a fan of women bosses. There’s no middle ground. They are either great, or are unendurable freak shows. She’s one of the good ones.

So. I got it. And since have had a few more projects to take on.

The third was a conversation with our old business development VPs. We had a long conversation about the whole thing. He’s the only coworker migrated from the old company that didn’t ask how I was doing (assimilating). He didn’t have to. He knew. Dude’s an encyclopedia of the industry and tech in general. He said that they wanted this or that piece of the old company, and were content to leave the rest to die on the vine. They could have sold our half to a few different companies, but that’s not the MO for Rainbow Corp.

The fourth dot was the last product release meeting. There was one feature that was already in the product (showed up in an update) the rest was all architecture changes to have it exist in our cloud. It already works in AWS and Azure, but as a discreet instance. It confirmed what the VP said; they don’t understand the business or the market. The product will become SAAS (Software As A Service) which they will sell per user, no contracts. Exactly how the VP said they would and it will lose money, just as he said it will.

They now hope to sell user accounts, competing with every carrier under the sun, most of which include that functionality for free. You buy a trunk or station from any SIP carrier, messaging comes with. In the meantime, they did our partners dirty. I expect them to flee when they learn who no longer supports them with the now zombie product.

They paid $75M for a $40M company, our side did about $25M. Three years later, that number is in single digits. Our product, they don’t understand, and it will be a broken toy they keep around long as it makes a 30% nut. Otherwise, it’ll die. The other? They kept the cloud stuff. But they aren’t doing great either. You see, they bought a competitor company long ago and ruined it. It was a partner of ours, with a tight integration to my product. Then they screwed partners and resellers, and we picked another – a competitor to them, a company we eventually merged with. That group was bought to take over market share. Period. RainbowCo already had the competing product and don’t care which one customers buy.

I’ve seen this movie before. I don’t like the ending.

Like Lucent, They aren’t a great company, they have no products I’d buy. Matter of fact, I own competing products I’m not allowed to use on the work computer. They are clearly better. Dropbox would be one of those, btw. So would Sharepoint.


Good thing though, at least for the engineers I know, is no one spends much time on the bench when cut loose from supporting this product. They wind up with better gigs, usually. I would not be surprised in the least to see my pal from support wind up at Cisco or Mitel.

They will go to competitors, with deep product knowledge. Fine, it’ll hasten the demise.

Like an old boss said “Guys like that don’t walk in your door every day. You normally have to steal them. So when they do, you hire them so no one else can”


Time to gussy the CV and start sniffing around.

Don’t need to. Want to.