Acquired

Last Friday, just before the end of the day, I found out that my current employer had been acquired. The buyer: Lockheed-Martin, the multi-billion dollar defense contractor and member of the Fortune 50. It’s the second time I’ve been part of a company that was acquired.

When I first heard the news, I thought back to previous employers. At Ciena, we were the buyer. I was there when they bought Catena Networks, Internet Photonics, WaveSmith, ONI Systems, and Akara. I worried less when we were the buyer because it usually meant that any “redundancies” would favor Ciena employees over the acquired company. Our managers and execs would always have meet with us to put the most positive spin on these moves. The acquisitions were revenue plays of course. When I left marchFIRST to join Ciena, it turned out that I had merely traded the Internet bubble implosion for the telecom bubble implosion. We merely delayed the inevitable layoffs a bit longer.

MarchFIRST (the former USWeb/CKS) was a different story. We got to be on both sides of the equation. While I was there, we acquired a strategy firm, and sold out Whittman-Hart. While it was spun as a “merger of equals” by the old CEO and the new one, it was as much a merger of equals as the DaimlerChrysler hookup (and even more of a failure, since not a shred of the combined firm exists anymore).

Since Aspen is so small (1700 employees to Lockheed’s 130,000+), I feel plenty of uncertainty as to what will happen next. Do they value Aspen as a single entity or will we be broken up? Is this acquisition simply a purchase of people and contract vehicles or something more? In the e-mail we got from our CEO, he said everyone would keep their jobs. But I have my doubts that we’ll keep two HR and accounting departments for any length of time. What happens after those duplicated positions go away is what I wonder about. I think it’s likely that after 3-6 months, the best technology people will be cherry-picked for other spots in Lockheed-Martin IT. I’m not sure what that means for me, but I feel better about sticking around to find out than I might have otherwise.