Wednesday, March 18, 2009

You Know You Work in Tech When…

You have worked for 3 different companies in 4 years but still have the same desk. This is not exactly true in my case, but the IBM talks to acquire Sun Microsystems certainly make things interesting. I am currently at Sun Microsystems via the StorageTek acquisition. For those true history fans, StorageTek was founded by some ex-IBM’ers.

Tech has been marked by start-ups. There will always be a few disgruntled employees who have the better mousetrap, but are boxed in by bureaucracy. When they truly have hit upon something they will bring it to market and get gobbled up by a larger company and become millionaires in the process.

The other mark of the technology industry is consolidation. As market growth slows, companies can no longer mint money and look to use the war chest to buy new growth opportunities. The caveat is faltering companies who realize they can no longer make it on their own and instead begin to shop themselves around.

Sun Microsystems falls into both camps over the past several years. As the tech giant stumbled from $250/share down to about $25/share a wave of acquisitions was launched. This included $4B for StorageTek and another $1B for MySQL. As the war chest dwindled, it apparently began to shop itself around. The rumor mill has included nearly all of the tech players from time to time and with the share price bouncing off of $3/share the company was quite a bargain as well.

As a shareholder I am happy to see the stock price pop. As an employee, there is always fear surrounding the uncertainty of being “right sized.” It is important to keep work in perspective and bring 100% regardless of the politics at the top. Opportunities will always exist for top performers and those looking to slide by will eventually be caught in the wrong spot regardless of M&A activity or the lack thereof.

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