On Acquisitions

Two companies I worked with were acquired by big corporations. Do I have bad karma and attract trouble? Well, maybe.

I’d like to express how big acquisitions look like from regular employee point of view.

Don’t tell bullshit

Seriously, shut up. It’s fine to have face-to-face meetings with me as an attempt to build trust, but you better listen now. Don’t tell “together we will conquer the world” stories. They sound silly. If you’ll tell me that you want us to be the next Facebook, I’d say — I am here because we’re not FaceBook. If I wanted to work on FaceBook, I’d not be here. Don’t try to brag and make me respect you, I don’t care about your experience during management of large-scale 100x million user project. It is team’s achievement anyway and your involvement is not clear to me. Perhaps you used to be the one who constantly demotivates teams. Perhaps these folks could achieve much more with another leader. Hmmm, endorsements on LinkedIn come from managers only… Yikes!

We’re different. We’re not FaceBook. We’re not “reactive high-scale multi-million-worth platform”. I don’t want your to replicate your experience here. I want you to understand, save and respect our culture, values and legacy.

Be open and honest to me. Even though acquisition decision is not “my level”, I want to know the reason and true story behind it, otherwise I will be one creating a story you don’t like. Thanks to my brain I have ability to think critically and analyse — if I will understand what drove your acquisition decision and how you managed it, I will respect you and stick with you because you’re smart, radical and honest leader. Chances are that story you’ll tell is much better than I’ve imagined. My imagination is deep and wide. I’d even accept if you say that you are here solely because of money.

To be honest, I don’t expect you to tell me everything. Just don’t fucking lie.

Don’t blame old management

I spent years with old management. We’ve been here from the early beginning. I know their families personally. You’re newcomer, so don’t tell me that starting from now “things will be right and better”. I was here when you were not. You’re foreigner, and you don’t really know ex-managers better than I do. You will never get credit by blaming your predecessor. Just one drop of unconstructive criticism and you’re screwed. And remember — when I will take place in management, I’ll blame you, because you’re a bozo that blames someone I had close hearty connection with. Maybe you’ll be the first candidate for firing in my list.

Don’t touch!

… and then you go:

Let’s use Scrum and switch to JIRA

Congratulations! Now I hate you because we already have software development process defined and tooling everyone is happy about. It’s not because we’re not open to change. We are indeed. Look how much we did before. I just want you to keep horses and understand our flow-based approach, philosophy and principles behind it, become part of it, work closely with the team. I will naturally reject your brand new idea, even a reasonable one if I feel that you still don’t get why we are where we are.

But you keep asking —

How can we make process more transparent?

Well… you’d rather ask — what can you do in order to see more, given our process and constraints it exhibits? I haven’t ever seen you attending daily stand-ups…

It’s so much easier to suggest solutions when you don’t know too much about the problem. (c) Malcolm Forbes, American publisher (1919–1990)

I want you to help us break the walls we hit and fix our current problems before pushing over your own ideas. We have a bunch of them. We want our problems to become your problems and vice versa. Face it — vice versa comes last.

Fire with respect

You’ve just fired someone with vision other than yours and made spectacular show out of it with scenes of public hanging. I don’t want to be hanged. Gossiping people on kitchen are now afraid to be hanged. Who will be hanged next? Of course me, I’am leaving office at 17:45 to pick my children from kinder garden and cannot do anything about it. I’ll better update my CV.

I expected you to goodbye with respect. I know you were afraid of “firee” spreading a bad word, so you cut the rope quickly. But that’s not a reason for nasty, surprising boot. I think “firee” will spread a word later… in a way it resonates in every corner. Pff, it’s so dangerous for the reputation of my company… Will never invite my friends to work here.

Preserve our uniqueness

Most probably you’ve acquired us because we’re damn good. Likely even better than you are. So why do you impose usage of your corporate processes and tools that did never work well at your company? Why do we need annual performance reviews? Fixed working hours? Big up-front commitments?

I think because you want to make our life more complicated, you, corporate monster. You’re eating our identity. I wish you learned from our agility and benefit from it…

And now you’re growing uncontrollably at the speed of light by adding Scrum Masters, HR and product managers.

— By the way, who’s that guy?

— It’s our product manager

— But who are these two guys next to him?

— Our product owner and program director

— Who will decide what’s important for the product?

Funny though, my team could benefit from someone that serves as a product visionary for our rock-solid investment platform. Let’s figure out what we can do with product owner with 10 years in adult porno business…


There is one more thing that bothers me now.

I don’t know why do you spend so much time with my teammate in the meeting room. Do you discuss my performance? Are there any secrets?

How great it would be if you could invite the whole team, listen to us, let us exchange ideas, help us implementing them. Secrecy in the air make me feel so uncomfortable. I feel that my team is losing integrity. I feel totally disconnected. Maybe it’s not a team anymore.

I quit.

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