(Not So) Bad Job Experiences, Number 8 in a Series (continued)

You know, Ed was right. When I posted Number 8, I left off the stupidest thing that Kodak did to the Cineon project.

One of the managers had this brilliant idea that what we needed most were programmers with “industry experience” – ie. programmers who had worked in the movie industry, but nobody with that sort of experience wanted to move to dreary old Rochester. So, the theory went, we’d move some of the development work to California and hire local talent, and with the added advantage that travelling back and forth to our customers would be easier. But for reasons I cannot comprehend, instead of locating in Los Angeles where “the industry” is, they located in Palo Alto, in the heart of Silicon Valley. So at the very beginning of the tech boom, they opened up an office in the middle of the most expensive tech talent in the world, but only offered Rochester level salaries!!! A bunch of our best people, including Ed, took Kodak’s relocation money to move there. So did some developers from Kodak UK. But as far as I can tell, we didn’t manage to hire a single local person in the year or so we were there. So a pretty decent development team was split into chunks for absolutely no reason that I can see.

The guys who took the relocation money were required to sign an agreement that they wouldn’t leave Kodak for some period of time, I think it was 18 months or they’d have to repay the relocation allowance. I know a lot of them were just waiting for that day so they could leave and go somewhere that paid Silicon Valley rates. But they were saved the bother when Kodak closed down the office and let them go with no penalty.

I have to wonder if it wasn’t the expense and disruption of the move and the effect the split team had on development that really killed Cineon.

One thought on “(Not So) Bad Job Experiences, Number 8 in a Series (continued)”

  1. Actually, we hired 3 people from the SF Bay area, and some of the others hired from other areas were more willing to relocate to Palo Alto than Rochester. The problem wasn’t so much the salary but that Kodak couldn’t offer anything like pre-IPO stock options that everyone thought were the quick ticket to riches.

    But the real problem with recruiting was that it wasn’t long after opening up in Palo Alto that Kodak started looking for a “partner,” which is a code-word for “we want to sell the business.” This uncertainty about the future pretty much stopped any new hiring.

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