mannerisms

Ruminations on the electronics industry from David Manners, Senior Components Editor on Electronics Weekly.

Ed Turns Poacher

‘”We’re going to be poachers,” is what I tell Bob Tyrell (Ed’s new COO),’ Ed confides to his diary, ‘my actual words were: “Our private equity owners want growth, but their policy of cutting R&D, closing  facilities and curtailing new product programmes mean the best engineers have all gone, and the chance of getting a decent new product stream together is zero”.’

‘Bob asked: “How can the PE people have been so stupid?”‘

 

‘”They never realised that they would own the company for this long,” I replied, “they thought they could buy the company, slash costs, asset-strip, boost profits and sell it on before the company’s future was affected.  Then came recession and the credit crunch and they couldn’t have sold the company for even half what they’d paid for it. Now they want to IPO the company at a profit. To do that they have to persuade investors that the company is growing. But how do I get growth? There’s no M&A money. No outstanding engineers. No money to build up new engineering teams. No more R&D money. So how do we grow the business? We poach”.’

 

‘”And this is where you come in, Bob”, I told him, “no one has more contacts in the industry than you. I want you to identify key men in other companies who are working in areas which we work in. Then I want you to find out how we can motivate them to join us.”

 

‘”So we boost our new product stream and screw our competitors’ new product strategy”, says Bob.’

 

‘”Precisely,” I tell him, “what do you reckon we should go for?”‘

 

‘”White LEDs – it’s going to be huge” replies Bob, “and I know the key man in what is probably the world’s best white LED operation. He’s in North Carolina”.’

 

‘”Get over there Bob. Talk to everyone who knows him. Find out what makes him tick. Find out what he wants more than anything. And give it to him”.’

 

A couple of months later, Ed’s diary reads: “Bagged the bugger. He’s coming over and he’ll get us into the white LED business. Just to have his name on the engineering team boosts the company’s value 15%. Roll on my $25 mill.’

Tags: investors, leds, poachers, Private equity, product stream

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6 Comments

  1. David Manners
    March 13, 2012 11:19

    He’s got his back to the wall, Robert, either he demonstrates balls or The Brats will have them off him.

  2. David Manners
    March 13, 2012 11:17

    Now that, Mike, is a plan

  3. Mike Bryant
    March 13, 2012 11:12

    Ah but since he has no engineers and obviously no required output he can devote all his time to creating the business plan for his own startup which he will do just after the successful IPO (if it is) as there will be money slushing around in the pockets of investors who invested in the Brats and who now know of him far more.

  4. David Manners
    March 13, 2012 10:59

    Yes indeed, BitterAndTwisted, it’s a wise man who understands the man who recruits him.

  5. BitterAndTwisted
    March 13, 2012 03:36

    After one week the new star hire finds he has no engineers and no budget. He’s given a grotty four year old notebook whose previous owner got canned. It’s so full of corporate spyware that it takes 30 minutes to boot each morning. Unfortunately there’s an expenditure freeze for the next three quarters so he can’t get a new one. His request for some $1K of software tools is turned down by finance. New star hire realises he has made a rather poor career decision and leaves.

  6. Robert
    March 13, 2012 00:14

    Gosh Ed is turning into a bit of a lovable rouge. Poaching is real “old school” thinking, especially if you have some pre IPO options to splash about.
    I wonder if Ed remembers any of the shenanigans that the communications semi companies got up to late in the 90′s. Seems to me they had a similar problem to Ed’s, but where theres a will theres a way. Maybe he needs to take a deep dive into their late 90′s financial accounts and look at concepts like product warehousing, especially when combined with concepts like customer pre IPO warrants.
    I’ve decided the trick with these financial games is to be so big and so blatant that no one has the *alls to call you on it.