Saturday, October 19, 2013

Second Guessing Tape Kicks into High Gear

I read the news today oh, boy
About a lucky man who made the grade
-- The Beatles, "A Day in the Life", Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Capitol Records

On Thursday morning, the RSS feed of a local business news show made my draw drop. There was a press release about how my former employer, Company Line, had agreed to be acquired by THE Big Bad Database Company. Terms were undisclosed, but the story percolated all the way to the top of the food chain the tech and online marketing trade publications.

A good chunk of the day that followed involved me chatting online with some former Company Line coworkers with whom I keep in touch. A couple of them had exercised stock options upon their departure. The earlier hire was thinking he'd come out ahead by about 40 percent. The later hire was going to lose $0.50/share.

All of us were surprised by the news. To the best of our knowledge, the company had achieved little traction in the past year. A major product redesign went live early in the year, and I know that there had been a major build out of analytics infrastructure for tracking site traffic. I had also received reports of as a host of demo-driven-development features rolled out because the self-important product guy who came on board back in late spring 2011 had promised them to potential sales customers.

Indeed, in the acquisition press release, the three big-name clients they cited all had been subscribers for at least three years. The acquiring company isn't buying an existing or growing revenue stream. There were suggestions that the application will complement feature gaps in another marketing application that it acquired last year. It's also worth noting that the acquiring company is seeing stagnation in its existing markets and is playing catch-up in the world of cloud computing. This acquisition gives them some buzz and an air of seriousness about its strategy.

Still, the press, both locally and nationally, is touting this as a win. The spectre of self-doubt that likes to nag me in these moments reminds me that I left and chose to exercise none of my options. Although in retrospect the stress was wearing me down and making me more irritable in my latter days there, the spectre suggests that I didn't have what it took to get them across the goal line. Bowing out gracefully was the best I could hope for.

I have put myself out to pasture, doing largely maintenance programming with no real greenfield development in sight.

Nearly three quarters of the savings accumulated since the divorce have been swallowed up largely by repairs to the roof and some drain line work. Although my gross pay decreased by about $500/month (since 7/1, that gap has narrowed to just under $300), I continue to pay child support at the same level. I have a car payment now, and lots of costs have gone up. My sense of financial security is worsening. In my darker moments, I think the only options I have left at retirement are hitting the lottery and suicide.

This is what plays through my mind when I feel doubt. I know it's probably skewed. I try to remind myself of the saying "You cannot be replaced," but somehow it can't compete with the anti-mantra "You aren't that great. You've never been, and it's not going to get any better. Why try?"

I can't bring myself to commit any kind of self-harm. Not yet at least. But I am seriously lacking things to hope for. Things that make it worth getting out of bed in the morning. I don't trust the universe.