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My employer's getting bought out...not sure what to do
Old 04-03-2009, 06:06 AM   #1
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My employer's getting bought out...not sure what to do

I work for a fairly large computer company that's in the process of being acquired by another company. I don't have any inside information, but it seems like all signs point to the acquisition going through out. I'm not sure what the best course of action is at this point. I really enjoy working here, and I have little desire to work for the acquiring company. I'm doing some really interesting work on the current project that I'm loathe to abandon. The project is pretty vital to our revenue stream, so there's speculation that our new overlords would let us continue the project until completion, but that's just speculation. That would be the ideal scenario--they let us complete our current project, which would last at least until the end of 2010. After that we would most likely be either be absorbed or laid off.

So I'm trying to decide whether to jump now or to jump later. Okay, if I'm being honest there's also a small part of me that's willing to give it a go with the acquiring company, since they are a lot more stable than my current employer. As far as jumping now goes, granted, there's not much to jump to, but I have a few contacts at other places where I think I could at least get an interview. However, 1) the work won't be as interesting, and 2) the commute is considerably longer. The second factor is pretty significant, as my current proximity to work allows me to be at home with our young son a fair amount.

Also, I'm not sure what my fellow employees' responses will be. Right now everyone seems content to stay, but the acquisition hasn't gone through yet. Once it does, will all of them try to jump ship immediately, at which point I'll be competing with a dozen or so highly skilled candidates? Will it be a gradual hemorrhage, at which point the project will collapse on its own? Obviously I can't predict or control these things, but these are just some of the thoughts going through my mind.

So that's my situation in a nutshell. I realize that resistance to change is also a factor as well, but I also know that I can't let that get in the way of doing what's best for my family. I'd appreciate any thoughts or advice people have on this.
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Old 04-03-2009, 06:18 AM   #2
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Unless something you're really interested comes along that you can't resist, I suggest your best option is to stay - at least long enough to see which way the wind is blowing.

If the project you are working on is viewed favorably by the acquiring company you might be offered a nice retention bonus to stay and see the project through to completion. Or you could prove through your work on the project to be a valuable asset the new company wants to keep around.
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Old 04-03-2009, 07:13 AM   #3
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I have a bit of an understanding of what you are feeling. My boss got the boot a week or so ago...the board just decided one day that they didn't like him anymore. Mind you, our company is doing much better that its competitors, and he was probably the best CEO we've had in 10 years (we've had several).

I know his replacement, and I'm not jumping for joy. I have, however, decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, and stick around. I'm not doing it for the board or the shareholders (public, but with a major shareholder that plays with his companies as though they were his private domains). I'm doing it for my people, hoping to keep my unit in tip top shape thru the upheaval, fallout, and inevitable "changes for the better" from the head honchos who don't yet understand the business...so they can continue to survive and thrive long after I'm FIREd. That gets harder every day, though, because I am losing trust in the board. When it is gone, so am I.

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Old 04-03-2009, 08:49 AM   #4
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It sounds like you have enough time to prepare for updating job skills and brushing up the resume in case you are made "redundant." I'd probably lean toward staying given that you like it there and that you probably have at least 18 months before the day of reckoning. By then, who knows? Maybe the economy will rebound and they won't need to cut as much as they think now...
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Old 04-03-2009, 09:32 AM   #5
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Okay, if I'm being honest there's also a small part of me that's willing to give it a go with the acquiring company, since they are a lot more stable than my current employer.
As far as jumping now goes, granted, there's not much to jump to, but I have a few contacts at other places where I think I could at least get an interview. However, 1) the work won't be as interesting, and 2) the commute is considerably longer. The second factor is pretty significant, as my current proximity to work allows me to be at home with our young son a fair amount.
Gosh, you're selling the heck out of this job switch...

A couple issues: how's your pension compare between the two companies? As a losing (and former) stockholder in your current employer I have to admit that they've seemed to be drifting rudderless in the PBGC direction for several years. But your new employer is no pension prince either. If you left now then you might be able to preserve your current pension, such as it may be. If you stay then the new employer may freeze or force a conversion.

How close are you to ER? One of this board's other posters, MB, kept his ER intentions pretty quiet. He was very close to giving his (minimum advance) notice when he was called in one morning to be told that he was being laid off. He managed to seem devastated enough on the outside to score good layoff benefits while jumping for joy on the inside.

So unless your dream job offer falls in your lap, there doesn't seem to be any reason to mess with the current chaos.
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Old 04-03-2009, 10:10 AM   #6
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Does the to-be-acquired company start with S and the acquiring company start with I?

I was part of a small-sized company that was bought out by I. Going from an almost-startup to a Fortune 50 company brings a lot of bureaucratic nonsense with it. The good news, in your case, is that I isn't doing badly right now and any layoffs might get a nice severance. The bad news is that I likes to offshore.

I'd stay.
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Old 04-03-2009, 10:47 AM   #7
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Another vote for staying! You don't yet know how, or if, your job will change after your company is bought out. It might be better. Or, there might be massive layoffs with a nice severance package (as eridanus points out in his post, above). Hard to know.

I'd stay and meanwhile start refreshing your contacts elsewhere just in case.
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Old 04-04-2009, 11:08 AM   #8
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Thanks everyone for your feedback. I've had some time to think about it and process the feedback I've gotten (from here and from others I've talked to), and I realize I may have been jumping the gun a bit. While there's a lot up in the air, there's a chance the project I'm working on will stick around, in which case I definitely want to be a part of it.

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Does the to-be-acquired company start with S and the acquiring company start with I?
Yep. The thing is, I used to work for "I", and I had a good reputation with them when I left, but I'm really not keen on going back there. But who knows; maybe they'll let us continue as an independent unit. :-)

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A couple issues: how's your pension compare between the two companies?
That's easy: nonexistent at both places. When I used to work at Big Blue before, they had a cash-balance plan, but I think they've even done away with that now. I'm not sure my current employer has offered a pension in the last 10 years.

And I'm at least 20 years away from retirement, so I think I will stay put for now. However, I am going to update my resume and start getting in touch with folks I haven't talked to for a while.
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Old 04-04-2009, 11:51 AM   #9
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Congratulations - sounds like you are doing all the right things in the face of uncertainty (sorry, wish I had some "certainty" I could e-mail to you). You're building and maintaining your network, so you'll get the best decisionmaking intelligence quickly. Plus, you seem to have built up a good reputation in various places, which is a huge asset as you know. Frankly you sound very sharp, and your priorities are in place (time with young son).

Uncertainty causes stress, so the advice is to do stress-busting things such as exercise, social networking just for the joy of it, and getting plenty of sleep.

Good luck! If you remember, please post when you find out which way you're gonna jump.
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Old 04-04-2009, 11:56 AM   #10
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And I'm at least 20 years away from retirement, so I think I will stay put for now. However, I am going to update my resume and start getting in touch with folks I haven't talked to for a while.
Sounds like a perfect plan to me. It sounds like you have enough time your bolster job skills, get the resume in shape and renew some professional acquaintances for networking purposes. And if worse comes to worst, hopefully you'll have all those ducks lined up together with a fat severance package to bridge the gap.
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Old 04-04-2009, 01:32 PM   #11
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I vote to get your resume out on the street and see what options you have. It will give you valuable information about your options. I have friends at both S and I and they both like their jobs. One left I with a golden handshake and worked for S for 15 years before retiring.
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Old 04-06-2009, 11:11 AM   #12
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IBM withdraws offer for Sun.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/06/technology/business-computing/06blue.html?_r=2&scp=2&sq=sun&st=cse
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Old 04-06-2009, 02:37 PM   #13
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Haha! I was just getting ready to post that.
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Old 04-06-2009, 03:29 PM   #14
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In the interest of full disclosure I FIREd myself a year ago after 16 years at S**. My only retirement benefit, 1 year of continued vesting in stock options became worthless as the stock price plunged.

Now that the deal appears to be kaput I suggest you decide if you want to hang in or pursue a package as the RIFs continue. I hung in at S** because I was in my mid-50's when things started to unravel and I did not have the energy for the job hunting process. If I had been younger I would have left in a heartbeat. Younger co-workers discovered there was life after S**. Some who left were asked by recruiters -- "...why did you stay so long?"
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Old 04-06-2009, 10:15 PM   #15
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Haha! I was just getting ready to post that.
It doesn't take much investigation to find that out. There aren't that many large computer companies that can afford to acquired another large computer company.

I'd say stay. There really isn't much going on now.
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Old 04-07-2009, 10:51 AM   #16
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It doesn't take much investigation to find that out. There aren't that many large computer companies that can afford to acquired another large computer company.

I'd say stay. There really isn't much going on now.
A prudent plan should include a course of action for the possibility that the individual does not get to decide if they stay or go. What if the project he thinks is valued is canceled? What if it is sustained but with staff and funding cuts, i.e., the work environment turns sour. As I wrote before I worked at S** for 16 years. With the I** acquisition/merger collapsing the future is at best cloudy. There are still decent severance packages available and they may be the best option. Nothing should be ruled out.
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Old 04-07-2009, 11:01 AM   #17
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I knew an engineer that was with a small to medium sized company that was bought out. After the buy-out announcement many managers and many engineers left for other companies.

So the selling company offered everyone a lucrative raise and bonus to stay until the sale. Still people continued to leave.

Then after the sale the new company offered my friend more money and a big bonus to stay for six months. Then after six months there was even more money and a bigger bonus.

He did very well for himself by just staying put. Those that left almost certainly didn't do as well.

The moral of this story is.... Don't panic before you see how everything turns out. It probably won't be as bad as all of the hall talk suggests.

You can always leave later if you find yourself in a miserable situation.
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Old 04-07-2009, 11:11 AM   #18
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I knew an engineer that was with a small to medium sized company that was bought out. After the buy-out announcement many managers and many engineers left for other companies.

So the selling company offered everyone a lucrative raise and bonus to stay until the sale. Still people continued to leave.

Then after the sale the new company offered my friend more money and a big bonus to stay for six months. Then after six months there was even more money and a bigger bonus.

He did very well for himself by just staying put. Those that left almost certainly didn't do as well.

The moral of this story is.... Don't panic before you see how everything turns out. It probably won't be as bad as all of the hall talk suggests.

You can always leave later if you find yourself in a miserable situation.
The problem is that there are multiple possible outcomes and it is wise to consider various options. There is anecdotal evidence to support every bit of advice.
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Old 04-07-2009, 04:15 PM   #19
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What you say is true. Multiple outcomes are indeed possible.

However I stand by taking the go-slow approach to see where it all lands. It just could be very lucrative.

- And you will never know if you bail out at the first signs of trouble.
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Old 04-07-2009, 05:56 PM   #20
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Another vote for staying put and polishing your resume. A good friend of mine Silicon Valley company was bought about 18 months ago by a larger competitor. He was a senior engineer at the old company, and is having no luck finding a job as 50+ year old engineer in the Bay Area now.

He is actually applying to be a mailmen! He is so desperate for finding a job.
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