Watts (chipotle) wrote,

The week of the void

It's not that the week has been bad. It's been absent. I can't recall doing anything at work other than waiting for the weekend. Somehow that's been tiring in itself. Some others are doing the headless chicken dance for the one remaining contract NetPoodles is trying for. Other prospects have definitive rejections or quietly faded away, and management pins hopes for new investment on a purchase from GCF (the potential client, a division of GE). See, if they get GCF to buy a couple thousand units and monitoring contracts, then it'll prove somebody's interested in NetPoodles products after all, right? It's been obvious for two years that NetPoodles hopes that GE will decide they have a vested interest in keeping their vendor alive, if not just buying them outright.

Is this realistic? Be, Inc. got their big contract with Sony right before they imploded, and Sony didn't step in to save them. While Be had good technology and NetPoodles' work is strictly pedestrian, the two companies share a pattern of torpedoing existing partners to go after the One Big Contract which changes from focus shift to focus shift. NetPoodles' management also told my boss that there are rich individual investors who have too much invested in us to let the company fail. Sounds good, but, again, the same applied to Be.

If I was asked to save NetPoodles, I'd say: kill the entire misbegotten hardware line. Stop manufacturing by the end of the second quarter, promise support until the end of 2004. Find a Firewall/VPN product with good brand recognition to resell, ideally from a company that makes other network hardware so you can provide end-to-end solutions. Set R&D on making the NetPoodles NMS (network management system--we'll call ours "Poodle Management System," or PMS) work with it, adding crucial functionality that the current iteration of PMS doesn't support like real-time management and awareness of all manageable network elements. If this means using an off-the-shelf NMS as the base for PMS, do it. Get in people who really know how to provision and manage data networks. Move existing legacy customers to the new system. And lose the "do the management console as cheaply as possible" attitude, of course--use Solaris and Oracle like you'd originally planned, not white-box FreeBSD PCs and PostgreSQL.

Bottom line. You want to be a service company, guys? Be a goddamn service company.

The ironic thing here is, of course, that if rich investors really do have a "the company can't afford to fail" attitude, they'll try to force changes like that on NetPoodles. If that means forcing out the current executive team, so be it. It'd mean axing the entire product management team (who are, bluntly, the source of most of the company's problems) and radically reorganizing R&D. I don't know if I'd have a place in that company. So I suppose it's a good thing nobody's asked me for an honest appraisal, huh?

At the start of the week I decided I'd save myself money by getting a bunch of those "Cup of Noodles" style ramen packages for lunch from Tuesday on, and then derailed that money-saving effort by going out to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner on Tuesday. Of course, I got Wednesday's lunch out of the leftovers and I think I'm still technically within the "allowance" I give myself for discretionary income, which includes all dining out. Mildly disturbing observation: the Cheesecake Factory's stuffed chicken tortillas tasted more like real southwestern food than any Tex-Mex chain I've been to.

So the question is: more ramen today, or do I blow my allowance to get out of the office? Maybe I could make the ramen and then escape to somewhere.

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