Date: Fri Mar 24 2000 - 18:24:37 PST
In a message dated 3/24/00 9:02:33 PM Eastern Standard Time,
<< I myself have been spending more time away from my passionand more onthe
politic of the workplace of late. If it werent for WSMF and the projects I
do in that name I would count myself in that sad goodnight of
zoned out zombies. >>
I JUST read this and think it is apropos:
Valley Talk, Friday, March 24, 2000, 06:02 PM
Why Startups Lure Big Company Workers
By Melanie Warner
Judy Meleliat is a great example of why big companies should fear startups.
Two months ago she was the top marketing person at Starbucks. Today she's
working at a startup called EmployeeSavings.com (www.employeesavings.com) and
has few intentions of ever going back to a big company. Sure, you say, all
these execs at big-time companies are jumping ship for Internet startups
because they can collect options that will perhaps lead to financial nirvana.
But that's only one part of it. The 43-year-old Meleliat says the bigger
reason she left Starbucks was that she grew weary of working for big
companies. After two-and-a-half years at Starbucks and eight years at
Egghead, she'd had it.
Not that Starbucks didn't have its good points. It's a growing company with a
great brand, so it's not like Meleliat was working for IBM or a phone
company. But Starbucks now has 1,200 employees in its corporate offices. "In
large companies it becomes more about process than about creation. How many
more meetings can you sit in on?" laments Meleliat.
Like blondes, people at startups, it seems, have more fun. At new companies
you get to make decisions quickly and the chances that you'll get bored are
slim because no two days are ever the same. Plus, everyone's dressed really
and there always seems to be plenty of beer and coffee on hand in the
kitchen. "You feel like you have your hands on the steering wheel of a very
fast car," says Meleliat,
describing her eight weeks as senior vice president of marketing at
EmployeeSavings, which is located in Seattle.
The company negotiates savings packages with merchants and then offers
discounts of 5% to 40% to employees at large companies. Companies like
Microsoft, Boeing, 3M, Allied Signal, and Eddie Bauer have subscribed to an
program that offers their employees discounts on things like movie tickets,
vacation packages, car loans, cell phones, and computers.
Meleliat can't quite get over the energy and adrenaline that permeates the
air at EmployeeSavings. Says Meleliat: "Every day there's like five to 10
decisions that you have to make. And there's a great sense of accomplishment
with that, like
you've applied something inside of you."
This isn't always the case at big companies. In fact, it's usually not. What
happens with big company syndrome is that people start to care more about
themselves and their groups or divisions than the company as a whole. They
work to build up little fiefdoms in an attempt to solidify their power within
the organization. They play games; they posture; they hold too many meetings.
And in subtle ways they lose faith in the company. They stop believing in
whatever it is that the company is trying to achieve. It's a cynical slide
and it may even be an unconscious one. But what happens is that you spend
more time trying to convince people that Plan A is
a good idea than you spend making Plan A happen. You sit through meetings
where nothing gets accomplished and you draft reports to tell people things
they already know. Until one day you're sitting in your office writing the
sixth memo of the day and you realize, "This place sucks."
But the irony is that even Internet companies have to fear Internet companies
since every small company, if successful, will be a big company. The other
day I was talking to a product manager at an Internet company that's been
public for five months. It's only got 250 employees, but he thinks the place
is already starting to look, act and feel like a big company and he's getting
ready to leave. He was in a
meeting the other day where one of the company's founders was going on about
how, even though the company has big new headquarters, everyone needs to act
like an entrepreneur. "There are no politics here," the founder insisted, at
point my friend looked around the room and saw everybody rolling their eyes.
One day EmployeeSavings may be a big company. Then Meleliat and everyone else
who's become addicted to startup adrenaline will be off doing something else.
That's the beauty of the New Economy. There's always something new.
To read Valley Talk on the Web, visit http://fortune.com/technology/daily/
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