RIF FAQ

I’ve received so many emails and blog comments about my departure from Sun that I decided to put together a little FAQ on the subject. Obviously these are my opinions; I don’t speak for Sun 🙂

  • Q. Why the RIF?
    A.
    That’s easy: Sun wasn’t achieving the profitability that was expected. The Q2FY06 numbers were significantly below what we’d all hoped for, and it was clear that something had to be done in order to establish an upward trend through the rest of the fiscal year.
    As to why the numbers weren’t what was needed, that’s a different matter. I can think of various contributing factors, but I don’t have an overall answer.
  • Q. OK, but why you?
    A.
    I’m not sure. There are several possible explanations. It could be that Greg Papadopoulos (Sun’s CTO) is simply getting out of the business of cross-company processs work. Perhaps everyone not associated with a strategic revenue-related product, program or customer is at risk. Or perhaps I was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. I happened to be reporting in to a department whose project was being scrapped, even though I wasn’t actually involved with it. It’s hard to tell, especially because I don’t know….
  • Q. Who else is getting laid off?
    A.
    I don’t have the big picture yet; neither the size nor the shape. Some of it, I suspect, is due to duplication of function or project between Sun and the companies we recently bought. Speaking as a shareholder, I hope that the management will be taking advantage of the situation to re-balance certain aspects of Sun’s operations that had drifted out of sync. (Yes, that’s maddeningly vague, but I’d prefer to see if I’m right before I explain further!) We’ll see.
  • Q. Did this come as a surprise, or did you know what was going to happen?
    A.
    Obviously I knew that a sizeable RIF was likely after the Q2 numbers were released, and a couple of weeks ago I got some indications of the projects that were at risk. But because my recent work was sui generis, I didn’t know whether or not my job was on the line. And since I couldn’t do anything about it, I chose not to worry about it.
  • Q. How are you feeling? This must be awful, after so many years.
    A.
    Thanks for the thought, but I’m actually doing just fine. In this business, in this economy, working for one company for so long feels… well, anomalous. And I must say that occasionally I wondered if I’d become “institutionalized”: did I have a sufficiently broad perspective, was I too focussed on Sun’s internal issues? Well, now I get to find out. I’m approaching this as a fascinating new adventure, and I’m pretty excited.
  • Q. So what are you going to do next?
    A.
    Not rush into anything! I’ve got a decent severance package (one benefit of 20+ years at Sun), and I want to take the time to explore the possibilities. I could get a conventional job, or do some consulting, or kick off a start-up. I want to talk to a lot of people, learn about life outside Sun, and then choose and act, deliberately. However I don’t plan to take much of a break. I don’t play golf, and I’m not going to emulate some people I know who regard this kind of situation as an opportunity to lower their handicap. When an adventure beckons, why dawdle?
  • Q. How about returning to Sun?
    A.
    Quite a few people do this, and I’ve talked to some of them. Sun certainly encourages returnees. But it’s just one option, and I’m not counting on it. (No backward glances, but no bridges burnt….)
  • Q. So how about doing lunch some time?
    A.
    Sure! Let me check my calendar.
  • Q. Blogging is very much a Sun thing. Are you going to keep on blogging?
    A.
    Absolutely! I was blogging before Sun got the bug (though not as long as people like Tim or Alec), and I plan to continue unabated. And that reminds me: if you normally read this blog through one of the Sun aggregators, please grab a direct feed before PlanetSun or b.s.c drops it. Thanks.
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