Tuesday, December 5, 2006

You Will Be Assimilated

I work for a global biotech company (who will remain nameless) that seems to have as its greatest purpose conquering all of biotech worldwide. Namely, it buys up smaller companies and eats them like chocolates. It doesn't even leave the half-eaten ones that no one likes, like marzipan. Instead of taking the considerable profits it gathers and reinvesting in its infrastructure (or its employees' pay, thank you), top management constantly has its eyes out for the next fish in the pond to gobble. They dangle a huge sum in front of the other company's eyes, and when they sell, we offer their employees "relocation packages." That's corporate-speak for "We are shutting you down and if you don't relocate to our site in Freezeyourassoff, Wisconsin, we'll throw your butt on the street and take your ideas as our own." Never mind that the new company's products are marginal competitors to our own products, or that their license-able innovations are questionable.

It brings back my nerdy remembrances of Star Trek: "We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile." You know what I'm talking about, right? Decent, ordinary space people are collected by human-robot hybrids and turned into new cyborgs by being plugged into all sorts of mechanical devices and mentally converted to become one with a hive mind. Somehow this process makes their skin turn greenish and causes them to walk around as if partly comatose. Even though they have cool laser-pointer eyes and drill bits for fingers, I wouldn't say they've experienced an improvement. But, hey, at least they've got team spirit!

The excuse Management gives for buying up companies is, of course, to look as if we are making a profit for that magical group of people called "the Stockholders." The other reason is to "stay on top of innovations." I'm a stockholder in my own company. I don't feel so magical. In fact, as a stockholder, I am guaranteed an opinion. Granted, my opinion is only worth the percentage of shares I own, and 0.001% isn't a very large percentage (if that), but here is my official opinion: "Stop buying companies for at least a year and spend the money to buy us some decent equipment and raise our pay." The other day I was denied the purchase of paperclips. Paperclips! Why? Because somehow my division had overpurchased office equipment. Not my fault. I haven't used anything other than a few pens (most of which have been lost in my recliner at home) and pads of paper. How are we supposed to "stay on top of innovations" when we have to beg for paperclips? So now I staple all documents together that would otherwise be paperclipped, and when it comes time to pull them apart, people will just have to deal with the little staple holes. If they ask why I can't produce neater copies for them without holes, I'll just tell them the hive mind told me to do it.

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