Journal: News & Comment

Tuesday, July 17, 2001
# 10:00:00 PM:

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I'm being followed

In January, Multiactive Software let me go from my job of more than four years, as part of a swath of layoffs. Multiactive went through a series of such purges in 2000 and 2001, losing everyone from recent hires to one of the people who had written the first lines of the company's software code back in 1987. It went from a peak of some 300 employees to less than a hundred today.

When I went freelance following my firing, I hoped I wouldn't have to live through anything similar again. But yesterday, my current contract client, Sierra Wireless (one of the darlings of the British Columbia technology economy), announced that it was laying off 10 percent of its staff -- 20 permanent and 10 interns and contractors. Happily, I was not one of them.

Sierra's troubles can largely be laid at the feet of one other company: Metricom, a major U.S. customer that went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection a few weeks ago. That cost Sierra tens of millions of dollars in missing revenue. Otherwise, things look pretty solid there -- Sierra's plans are smart, and I expect the company will make a profit again not too many months away. Multiactive's problems were more systemic. It has almost never made a profit at all.

However, I've just found out that my contact at another client company was laid off too, because of the general poor state of the tech economy. I'm glad my skills are adaptable enough that I don't depend entirely on technology to make a living.

In fact, the band is playing a lot of weddings in the next few months. Decades ago, my dad said, "You never know when you might need to sing for your supper." How right he was.


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