Frame, I’m Gonna Live Forever… #socs

From 1980, Irene Cara, “Fame”…

The play on words was just too tempting.

Back in my working days, I was a trainer/technical guru/installer/troubleshooter (and just about anything else they needed) for a software company, but you probably already knew that. The company, which wrote and sold mainframe software, built its software around a reporting tool that was practically a direct ripoff of another generic (non-proprietary) reporting tool (it was different enough that they couldn’t sue us). Gradually, we started adding query capabilities which would eventually allow us to rewrite the online inquiry, entry and update portions of our software using that tool. After several years, we were ready to start selling Release 1.0 of the software. We did so wwith great fanfare one Monday… and pulled the product off the market a week later, with no explanation as to why. A day or so later, the CEO fired the president, and the next day, we had a massive layoff where about a quarter of the staff was let go. Those of us who were left were assembled in a movie theater across the street and were told by the CEO about the “new direction” the company would be taking.

None of this made any sense until about a year later, when it was announced that we were purchased by a company who also owned our biggest rival in the software business, who planned to merge us with said rival and let us work out the details. The CEO of our company, who had made a lot of money when the company was purchased, would be the CEO of the new company, with his counterpart in the other company becoming president. (Of course, the first opportunity he got, the CEO fired the president, who had been his biggest rival in the business, and took on the title of “President and CEO.”)

Anyway, we realized we would have to muddle through somehow. Now it would make sense that, if we had a great reporting tool and an adequate online, and they had a great online and adequate reporting, we’d use our reporting and their online, right? Well, no. We were instead told that the mainframe was dead and client-server was the wave of the future, and we would, in the words of the immortal Max Headroom, “catch the wave.” The idea was that we would build a client-server product together, then try to convince our client base (which was quite happy with what they had) that they should migrate to the new product, giving us lots o’ money in the process.

Well, as you can probably imagine, that went over like a lead balloon. Some of our clients decided that they would evaluate other client-server offerings from our rivals and went with them rather than us. Others wanted to know if the client-server products would integrate with the software they already had, and when they heard it wouldn’t, they lost interest. (Of course, we had software that would do it, but for some reason chose not to offer it to our clients.)

I, on the other hand, had time on my hands and a desire to solve some of these issues, and actually produced some prototypes, all of which were met with little interest. I got the message, shut my mouth and did what I was told. The more I think about it, the more I realize I should have taken it as a sign, quit and started my own company to do what they seemed unwilling to do. Woulda, coulda, shoulda…


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now, a bunch of adorable kids for Ivory Snow.

20 thoughts on “Frame, I’m Gonna Live Forever… #socs

    1. The company was sold again in ’97, then spun off and merged with a company out of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and they’ve renamed themselves, so they’re still around, and as far as I know many of the people I worked with are still there.

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      1. I was sure those decisions would’ve caught up to them. Glad for the employees to have jobs. With B’s recent turn of events I hate to hear about mergers gone south.

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        1. They spent all that time and effort to slap lipstick on that pig, and no clients were interested in it. I’m convinced that 90% of all layoffs happen because of stupid business decisions. And the thing that kills me is, more often than not the people who made those stupid business decisions keep their jobs and get raises and promotions, or get very lucrative exit packages and go on to make more stupid decisions somewhere else.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Great play on the prompt. I remember well the changes in the mainframe world. I remember trying to justify bringing PC’s into our customer service dept. My boss was vehement in his belief there was no way PC’s would ever replace dumb terminals on the desktop. There were a lot of short-sighted managers back in the day.

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  2. There’s something especially disheartening about having a good idea shot down by someone who either doesn’t understand it or has a different (often worse) idea.

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    1. The managers who had worked at the other company tried God knows how many reporting tools to integrate with their online, and spent I don’t know how much money in training, licenses, and development costs, and not one of them is still available. But God forbid anyone from our side would ever suggest using our own reporting tool, even though we had a lot of people (damn near everyone who worked for my former company) that knew the technology well enough that we could have helped them integrate their products with ours, trained everyone for the price of T&E, and have a product that we knew would work and the clients would have been happy with. True, the technology had been built in the late ’80’s, but it was all there and would have been a simple matter to have stuck a GUI on top of it (something we had to do anyway with the product that we licensed from elsewhere. The costs in development were sunk. Ah, but you see, no one ever listened to me…

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  3. My experience is with workplaces that say they value consultation and innovation, but really want employees to toe the line. They lose a lot of good people that way – both to other jobs, and to the dark pit of I don’t give a crap anymore.

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    1. When they realize they can replace you with a kid who makes half your salary, one who won’t sass them or have ideas that conflict with theirs, they usually look for ways to do just that. They could care less about experience, and they have all the answers and ideas they need without you bothering them with yours.

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    1. The Dilbert Principle explains it. Scott Adams said that the people most likely to screw up are put in management where they can cause the least amount of damage… 😝

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  4. Fame, great song. I didn’t get into the TV show. I experienced similar circumstances with my company. My department was sold to another insurance company. 35% of the employees were let go, including upper management. If you got an email, you were gone and if you got a phone call you still had a job. This selective process took place after all employees went through 3 interviews for their own job. Somehow, I survived. Then, little by little, employees were let laid off until finally, they closed the Florida location. Thus, my transfer to Atlanta. I was the last employee in the Atlanta office, which they closed. I retired at 67, with severance. Voila!

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