Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Is It Just Me, Or Is This Pond Getting Smaller?

Have you ever seen the cartoon with a bunch of fish in a row, each bigger than the last, each with its mouth wide open to swallow up the fish in front of it? That's kind of what life feels like right now. On Monday October 8th, Business Objects (the large company I work for) and SAP (a much larger company) announced an agreement for SAP to purchase Business Objects for 4.8 billion Euros.

Yes, billion. That's around $6.2 billion at the current exchange rate.

Of course it all happened when I was home sick. Instead of spending that Monday in bed, I got to call in to meetings and try to stay awake between them so I wouldn't miss one. (I spent much of Tuesday the 9th in bed instead.)

This will take a lot of time and many steps to complete, so it won't be final for several months. There are regulatory hurdles to clear in several countries before all is said and done. I've never been part of a publicly traded company before, so all of this is new to me. It's kind of exciting in a way. As a Bobj stockholder (through the employee purchase plan), I should be getting an offer to purchase my shares at the agreed price. SAP is actually planning to run Bobj as an independent entity, retaining our own branding and such. So sometime next year I'll probably be working for "Business Objects, an SAP company."

It's always possible that another company could come along and offer more per share than SAP, in effect attempting a hostile takeover. The list of companies in a position to pony up over $6 billion in cash is short: Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and--maybe--one or two others. I'll worry about that when someone tells me I should worry about it. In fact, I'm not really worried too much about any of this. I don't expect my job to change much for a while, if at all--they've been taking more pains than usual to state that they don't anticipate any layoffs. I know that one should never blindly accept the corporate rhetoric that gets spewed on these occasions, but at this point, no one I know is getting any bad vibes. Que sera sera.

Tami is going through takeover woes herself, from the back side. ECII, the company that bought La Crosse Management Systems, promised a lot but hasn't delivered much of anything to date. Now that she's become invaluable to LMS, Tami presented a proposal for becoming a full-time, salaried employee, instead of hourly. I think her boss, the former co-owner of LMS, would have accepted long ago. But it's not up to him anymore, and ECII is being maddeningly slow to do anything with it. All Tami can do is wait. LMS was understaffed when purchased, and it has gotten worse since, and the frustration level is mounting. Everyone hopes ECII will recognize this and do something about it before it's too late, but so far they seem oblivious.

It doesn't seem to matter which fish you are, the situation's the same. The only difference is how big the pond seems to be. I wonder if there are any other ponds out there?

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