[this is a ymoyl update.]
there were layoffs at osdn today. a conference call was held to explain why this was happening, but the answer was so discouraging that it may have been better not to bother. the financial problems have been caused not by poor work from anyone who’s losing a job, but by monumental stupidity from the top which has proceeded in spite of everything that has happened in the last 18 months. just to give the tip of the iceberg: when i first went to the company offices in acton in 1999, the company (with much wailing and grinding of teeth) had just moved from the house on the lake into an office park because the officers felt they needed more room and a more professional appearance. over time, and keeping in step with the roaring 90s, they bought the entire floor of the building. they’ve stayed in the same office while the staff has dwindled. osdn is a web publishing company; most of its employees work from home. an office is only needed for clerical staff and as a place to meet with advertisers. in spite of this, they’ve kept an 11,000 square foot office for the ten (10) people who still work there. they’re paying $25,000 per month to give each office worker over 1,000 square feet. that’s $300,000 per year. they could buy my house three times for that. they could certainly buy all the office they need and leave themselves free from ever paying rent again, and what they save on that (and a million other idiocies) could save jobs.
but the expectation of reasonable and responsible action, the hope that those given charge of ridiculous funds could set aside greed and pride and manage them as maturely and responsibly as i try to manage my own finances (meager as they may be by comparison) is a pipe dream. the children who were puffed up by ego-feeding venture capitalists in the silicon rush treated their companies’ wealth with the same madness with which so many americans throw away their own money, and now my friends are losing their jobs as a result. if the company hadn’t thrown everything away before, there would have been enough reserves to get through the down market, but it’s all gone. gone to the officers who cashed out with millions apiece after the ipo, gone to night after night in $300 hotel rooms, gone to give each office worker $2,500/month of space.
all the talk on irc has been about what people are doing in reaction to the news, how they’re scrambling to find new work, renting the rooms in their homes, etc. it’s brought the fragility of my situation to the forefront of my mind more than ever before. there’s little hope of sanity taking root in the company, so who knows how soon it might all crumble? how long will it be before i’m the one on the market again? six months? a year? ten years? who knows? what i do is so specialized; what would be the chances of finding work like it again if my current position disappeared?
no matter the answers, one question remains: what do i need to do to prepare? two things, i think:
first, i need to have enough cash reserves on hand to get through a period of unemployment if there comes a time when i’m looking for a job. the guideline i’ve always had recommended to me is “enough to get by for six months”. at my current rate, including the mortgage and car payments, i’m spending about $2,000/month, so i should have $12,000 cash on hand. including the tax refund i just received, i have $6,000 to invest in next month’s auction of treasury notes. should i just keep it in my money market account instead, ready to pay bills if needed?
secondly, i need to be open and flexible about my lifestyle, keeping my mind accustomed to the idea that there may come a time when i rent a room or two in my house, or when i give it up entirely. i just hope i can keep it long enough to have significant equity in it if i have to sell it.