20 Years and Counting
So after Sirenia Software shut down, I was at a loss as to what to do next. There really weren’t any game companies in the area that were looking for designers and I was getting kind of desperate. But, it was the beginning of the “Dot Com” era, so there were tons of people looking for anyone who had any experience with computers. I started applying for editing and/or tech writing jobs.
I was getting worried until I got a call from Metrowerks. This was the company that originally made the Code Warrior compiler. They were looking for someone who could set up a webportal for the Code Warrior users – particularly the game industry. And then serve as the game industry liaison.
In this position, I would be actually be responsible for designing the site, getting the bids, overseeing production of the portal and then managing the content for it. Seemed like aperfect way to stay in touch with the game industry, while making some money.
So I thought.
At that time, Metrowerks had JUST been purchased by Motorola. So they were in a state of transition. I dove in and started working on my assigned product right away. I talked to everyone involved, gathered requirements and built an RFP. I feted the RFP to all the “powers that be” and was then asked to do a full presentation at the newly organized monthly “brown bag” sessions. I did the presentation, complete with my development plan and timeline. Six months.. I’d have it up and operating in six months.
Everyone applauded and I got many thumps on the back for it. The Marketing VP made over it and went on and on about how this is how projects should be run. I was home free! I sent out the RFPs to the selected vendors, got the bids back. This narrowed the list down to three and I set up site visits. I took my boss with me and gathered notes. When we were done I decided on what I thought was the best vendor and then wrote up a report for the marketing VP and the Prez with the info on the three finalists, my report on the visits and my recommendation. Done, right?
Then the politics started.
“This looks alot like a content management system,” said the docs manager, “Maybe we should look at something more all encompassing. I’ll set up the meeting with Microsoft.”
“I think this is something IT should be more involved in,” grumbled the IT manager. “I’ll get them to look at some alternative solutions and then set up a meeting with all the IT staff. I’ll get you a report on that outcome.”
“Oh! I saw something just like this at the last convention I was at! Only.. it did PR stuff too!” said the PR person. “I’ll call that vendor and we can have a phone meeting about it!”
“Wait… this is just too expensive! We could do it with freeware ourselves, in house,” said a programming manager. “I’ll get a prototype together.”
And.. so the squabbling and indecision took over. For the next THREE YEARS.. my project – that should have taken six months, soup to nuts - waffled in executive indecision as everyone wanted a piece of the pie.
During this time I was moved from department to department, I managed IT content, but not IT. I managed some outside websites, but not all. I chased down who owned what and dealt with a squatter that picked up one of the motorola URLs when it went unpaid. But.. mostly.. I waited. .. and waited… and waited.
During that time, the Dot Com turned to the Dot Bomb… and everyone got the yips about doing anything on the web. The tool provider that I had originally tagged as the vendor I wanted, went bankrupt. Metrowerks got notice they were being moved .. consolidated into one of Motorola’s other locations… and at that point we all knew the handwriting was on the wall.
We all started preparing for the layoffs a week ahead. By the time the dreaded day rolled around, we had it all planned.
When you were laid off from Motorola you were marched out the door. You didn’t get to say goodbye to anyone so there was no closure. To deal with this, we all made an agreement. The first to be let go would head over to Star of India restaurant and grab the big table in the back. Then, as others got the axe, they could join us. That way we would have SOME amount of closure. Of course, anyone who wanted to join us could come along and many did, even those who hadn’t been let go, as it gave everyone a chance to say goodbye to friends.
So I was back on the streets.. wondering what I was going to do next.