It’s been a bad couple years in tech, with declining margins (and in many cases volume/revenue). I said the other day that this would be a big issue if it flowed out of the larger companies to the smaller ones. While we can’t tell yet, here’s an encouraging sign, courtesy of Dell, who started this latest run.
The first wave of Dell folk to volunteer to leap from the privately owned biz with a redundancy parachute, swept over parts of the organisation last week – and by all accounts the numbers exceeded management targets.
Or so say our sources close to the company, some of whom are now former Dell people that were only too happy to sign up for the redundo money.
The Voluntary Separation Programme kicked off last December when Dell opened the door for workers who did not share management’s “passion and enthusiasm” for the new era.
I’ve been “made redundant” a few times in my relatively long career. In some cases, I got to stay behind in orgs that were otherwise decimated. And here’s a fun fact: the people that leave generally have it better than the people that have to stay. By some speculations, Dell was hoping for about 7% of the people to take the package, and the number was larger than that. That has to be a little depressing for the people who stayed, who now wonder what they’ve missed.
One other point… The people that left are likely to flow into the business community in the cities around them. My company is one of the largest employers in quite a few cities. When I lived in Portland, I had multiple people comment to me that when we did a reduction, the general IQ of the business community went up significantly. Per my last post on this, that bodes well for the smaller businesses, as long as they’re not afraid to expand at this time.
So sometimes, a little discouragement can be encouraging. Let’s see if that’s true here.
The Northwest appears to mostly be dug out of its snowy hit from last week. We got about two feet of snow, and the freezing rain promised never really hit, so the ice is mostly from the melt. Having now unburied a bit, I found a few things that deserve some comment, so here goes:
…I see that Microsoft just wants people to stop using XP and buy a new computer. Since the computer industry has been pretty clear to Microsoft that Windows 8 is the reason nobody was buying any computers, this is probably a form of payback or penance. But really, all those years of XP skills I have are pretty much useless these days. Not that that’s a bad thing, the tech industry moves ahead…
…Bitcoin continues to be confusing to the world. Look, anyone can espouse the wonders of this wonderful currency, I suppose. But really, isn’t this just another currency on par with Zimbabwe in terms of backing or global support? Of course people are going to be able to ply the odds and “make money,” but that only comes to fruition when you actually cash it out…
…Kevin Williamson notes that some people are still enamored of the French Revolution. I’ve never gotten that. The French Revolution was a revolving door of people in power knocking off the last set of people in power, and the only people who seemed to come out on top were the ones who starved through most of it. I suppose that’s a great formula for being hungry, but I don’t get why anyone would want to hop on that ladder to the guillotine, lest they guess the wrong stance when they get there…
…I see we have a top prospect coming out before the NFL combine and draft. Most of the players in the league have a strong socially liberal bent, so this is probably not any big deal. Well, not any big deal other than to people who think that gays living openly in society somehow still means that they’re forced into slavery or something. I’m waiting for someone to come out as Republican to see what happens there…
…Oh, and I’ll lose count at “brave Facebook meme” posts after they cross fifty…
…I’m not the Olympics junkie that some people are, though I’ll probably have the TV on mute most of the morning to see if anything interesting is happening. These are people at the top of their sport, skating for pride or nationalism. I’ll generally take that motivation over getting another $10M contract…
…Although some of them will end up getting big endorsement contracts as a result…
…Or they could already just be world-famous violinists, with a desire to ski really fast. I’d note that I can’t even stand on skis without injuring myself, so I’m always impressed when focus in one portion of life leads to focus in another…
Enjoy the day, everyone.
The new story on the health care thing is that it’s okay to work less hard now that you get free crappy health care? So we’re raising a generation of slackers who can take time off to wait in line for a doctor.
I keep hearing about the acceleration of the economic recovery, but I’m not necessarily seeing it from the inside of my particular forest. After Dell went private, it offered a pretty broad voluntary separation package (VSP) that didn’t net what the management were hoping. Initially rumored to be 5000 people, it’s looking more like 15000 these days. Intel announced a 5% reduction for 2014 in the last earnings report. Now IBM is pushing for a slimfast employee diet.
IBM is set to spend another $1bn on job cuts this year to eliminate an estimated 15,000 jobs worldwide, according to trade union Alliance@IBM.
The company has already spent the same amount of money last year on ‘workforce rebalancing’, its euphemism for redundancies.
Big Blue’s chief financial officer for finance and enterprise transformation, Martin Schroeter, has admitted there would be more cuts in 2014, during the announcement of IBM’s fourth quarter earnings last month.
The 15k for IBM isn’t anywhere near as big a deal as 15k for Dell, it’s closer to the Intel number. But with that said, it’s pretty clear that the biggest technology companies are not seeing significant growth. To keep profitability and earnings moving, they’re choosing to cut rather than spend their way out of the downturn. I think that’s a decent strategy, since there’s still a pretty strong lull in companies buying technology, which says that the general economy still appears to be flat to down from a real perspective.
I’m not expecting that this will make the list of all the reasons why the economic recovery isn’t actually here… tech seems to be viewed as an insular entity… likely because of the big bubble a little more than a decade ago. But tech is a leading indicator to me, not a lagging one. When there’s strong technology growth, it shows a move forward in the global economy. Likewise a tech pull-back usually means caution everywhere else.
I’m interested to see whether this flows to smaller business. If small tech companies stay cautious, then that means the money isn’t flowing, and it’s likely that we’ll stay in the doldrums for a bit. The counter is to see what companies are hiring even as they’re cutting. Lynn talks a lot about deciding what the three most important things are when you’re refocusing. Watching the job openings will make it pretty clear which way is forward for these companies.
Mr. Craig argued that research done by the Department of Justice shows that “armed citizens, good citizens, can have a deterring effect on violent crime,” The Detroit News reported.
“While I sit here with lots of optimism and encouragement that crime is declining, we still have incident after incident where individuals like elderly people get dragged out of their cars at gunpoint,” the police chief continued.
“This is not often talked about: responsibility. I do not condone vigilantism. I don’t support individuals arming themselves and doing the work of police officers. Police officers are trained to enforce the law. I think you put people at risk when you have people that are out playing police. I do see that a concealed weapon is an opportunity for self-protection only; not to go out and enforce the law,” he said.
He makes a fine distinction here that a lot of gun advocates make, including myself. He also doesn’t make one that many of us often make. First to the one he makes: let the police handle the criminals in ordinary circumstances. The training I take almost universally enforces the point that even well-trained citizens have a duty to disengage as fast as possible. Often it’s an armed citizen that stops a crime, but where available, that should be the police.
And that comes to the point he doesn’t make. If you regularly carry a firearm, you should be trained how to use it. I don’t want to make training a precursor to owning a gun, but I do think that you have to be responsible. For the record, I think the same thing about cars, and I often wonder when mandatory drivers’ training for new drivers passed on.
So Mr. Craig’s comment about responsibility goes to both of these, I suppose. If you have a gun, you should practice with it and get some basic training on how to safely handle and use it. Likewise, training does not mean that you are a semi-deputized citizen patrol. We’re seen recently how a little too much enthusiasm and too little training can go really wrong, right Mr. Zimmerman?
Like any good gun enthusiast, I’m always willing to take people out to the range to learn the basics of shooting, but I always recommend to anyone that wants to get a gun afterwards that they should find some training to take. The former ensures that they’re not scared of guns in basic ways, and that the myths are dispelled. The latter? That’s just being a good citizen.
I’d seen this before, and then Jim Geraghty noted it in his daily e-mail, so I figured I’d comment on it. File under: Weird stuff that happens when the feds and the state get together on an idea.
An experiment to see if killing invasive barred owls will help the threatened northern spotted owl reverse its decline toward extinction is underway in the forests of Northern California.The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Friday that specially trained biologists have shot 26 barred owls in a study area on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation northeast of Arcata, Calif.
They plan to remove as many as 118 barred owls from the area, keeping the 55 known barred owl nesting sites open over the next five years to see if spotted owls increase, said Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Robin Bown. Contractors go to an area that barred owls are known to be in, play a digital caller to attract them, and shoot the birds with a shotgun.
The entire timber industry in the Pacific Northwest was the opposite of decimated – it went down 90%, not 10% — in the last couple decades. The forests are actually seriously unhealthy because there’s been no management. But heck, the owl they were here to save is dying off anyway. So the next idea is to start shooting other owls to see if that’ll help. This is known as your government at work.
It’s pretty common belief now that all the government intervention in forestry has mostly made the tree situation worse. The trees are much smaller these days, and they’re grouped closer together. Around our place, private and public concerns are spending piles of money thinning forests before they catch fire. In the old days, it used to be that nature just occasionally caught areas on fire, and the low-ground burns would thin out smaller trees and provide room for new growth. Oh, well, we put all those out these days, so now we get serious crown fires instead.
Hopefully we’ll see more sensible policy at some point, but in the mean time, it makes for good theater, provided you don’t mind killing jobs, animals, and trees.
I’m sitting in a hotel lobby at a conference, and the Super Bowl Media Day happens to be on the screen. So we have the media reporting on the media day for a sports event.
Earlier, I was getting a constant run-up to the State of the Union address on my news channel, and then I caught a couple articles from authors (Goldberg and Williamson in particular) who really don’t like it. And I think they actually like it more than I usually do.
These two are related. We’re in an obsessive culture that must analyze itself in order to feel justified.
I think I’ll go work for a while. Hopefully there will be beer later. But I won’t be unjustified if there’s not.