Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Comment! And Stupid, Evil Companies.

Gee – a comment! I didn’t think it would happen. Not that it matters much: this blog appears to be the best-kept secret on the Web. My fault: I’ve done nothing to publicise it; and no-one would be interested anyway, so why bother.

And yes - thanks for the observation: giant IT corporations are indeed evil. I think I could even add some more detail:

All giant corporations are evil, because all giant corporations are stupid. I reckon the aggregate intelligence of an organisation is inversely proportional to the number of lines of communication that exist within it. A two-man operation will be ½ as intelligent as the average intelligence of the employees.

So by the time you reach 40,000-employee monsters like the one I just left (!), the corporation acts as though it has the brain of a sea-slug. Anything simultaneously that stupid and that powerful will inevitably be evil – as anyone who has met a stupid powerful person will confirm.

There’s another factor specific to IT companies, and I’ve personally witnessed this on more than one occasion. As a small technology company becomes increasingly successful and bigger, its turnover increases too. Accountants, lawyers and marketing people become increasingly important to its operation.

In its early days, tech companies are headed and lead by technologists: coders, engineers, hackers and nerds. The financial, legal and marketing people are seen as hangers-on, and they’re neither particularly liked nor very powerful. As time goes by, however, and the daily business of the company becomes more concerned with money than with technology, the power balance inevitably shifts toward the hangers-on, and the technologists fade into the background. As the company becomes more compartmentalised, the people who started and nurtured the organisation from birth are sidelined into a separate and separated ‘Technical Department’, while the former ‘bean counters and salesmen’ control the running.

This process usually culminates in a palace coup, with varying degrees of bloodiness. Venture capitalists and banks will side with the finance department, and their influence can make the difference. The company founder is bought off with large sums. A new CEO is appointed, along with a new Board of Directors. The transformation is complete, the former technological princes are confined to their backroom department, and the company becomes just like all the others.

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