A friend of mine called me up the other day and told me that this was his last day in one of the original buildings of our former company. The buildings were sold. He was moving into another building, the next day.
It’s a common story – big hi-tech company is bought by another big hi-tech company. Some of the technology remains, but the company is no more. The industry doesn’t stay the same. The landscape, the network, the mesh, the world, it changes.
I know that. People say “change is good”, as if it were a mantra, or a talisman, or a truth they want to believe. In reality, change is change. Some of it is good – some not so good. It’s just change.
If you ask me, this big hi-tech company was the best hi-tech company in the world. We had thrilling products. It was a wonderful place to work. We knew each other well. We had a history. We had a culture. Don’t get me wrong – it was a real place, with real people. Good things happened, but terrible things happened too. That’s how real places are, with real people.
If you never worked for a great company, then you can’t understand this. I told people at my new place (an educational institution) the story of the buildings being sold. They tried to understand, but I don’t think they did. Now, if I would have said – “well, what if our great educational institution was gone, after over one hundred years of existence – would you tell me that change is good?” “No”, they would tell me – “that’s different!”.
It’s not different. The world changes, but that doesn’t invalidate what we had. I wish there would have been a way for the best hi-tech company in the world to continue, all by itself, successfully, happily, creatively, with me there too – but that didn’t happen.
Lest you think I’m being completely maudlin – I feel I need to say this – I’m not being maudlin, nor am I “stuck in the past”. I’m working with good people (smart too!) on interesting things. I’m making a difference. In everything I do in the work world, I try to bring some passion, a “you can make it better” vibe. I believe in both technology and in our ability to make things better. And I follow tech companies with interest, and yes, affection. It’s a big world – there doesn’t have to be only one great hi-tech company in the whole world!
I’m ending this post with a tribute.
Today is Friday. Late Friday afternoon was a special time for us. Here is what I did. I brought up Google Maps, and I found the location of the original company buildings. I switched to street view. I clicked on the map, modeling how I traversed the physical landscape of my company, at their headquarters in California. I Google Map “drove” past the original buildings, and then I drove past the buildings in California where I used to work. Then I opened a beer.
amarez – mszv