a missed job opportunity

About a week ago, one of the companies I applied to got back to me. They wanted to know if I was willing to take a test as part of their hiring process and that the test would be conducted in either Hyderabad or Bangalore. Assuming that was where Flower (company name changed) had their Indian offices, I replied ‘Bangalore’. The test date was scheduled a couple of days later. It would be my first visit to Bangalore and thanks to the wonders of technology, I was able to reserve transport and hotel accommodations before I departed.

Apart from the usual preparations of reading technical documentation, I decided to research the company I was applying to. The only thing I knew about them was that they were looking for a C#/.NET software developer – nothing else. My first stop was wikipedia. The encyclopedia entry told me that Flower was a US-based company from Florida. They’ve been in operation since 1985 and dealt with ERP and HR software systems. The entry also mentioned a couple of awards the company won. Seemed like a nice place to work at.

Next I decided to check out what kind of salary I could expect if I joined Flower. Glassdoor was helpful in this regard. For the most part, it looked like they paid Industry standard wages. Nothing spectacular, but nothing to complain about either. Then I looked into the reviews that were listed about the company and a different picture began to emerge.

It looked like Flower was bought by an equity firm called Yellow (name changed) within the last few years. As a result of the change in ownership a lot of their senior Indian managers and developers were ‘let go’. To make up for the loss of talent, they were quickly hiring multiple junior/entry-level employees. To me, this sounds like a cost-cutting maneuver that pops up from time to time in the IT world. The reasoning is that senior employees are expensive and you can get the same job done with entry-level schmucks instead. A side-effect is that whatever work actually gets done will be sloppy and you ending paying more to fix it in the long run.

As someone with 4 years of work experience, I began to worry. Checking up on Flower’s website, I found out that they didn’t even have a Bangalore office! So where was I expected to take the test in? Looking closely at the address they gave me, it appeared that they were directing me to the office of Mango corp (name changed).

Why would Flower want me to go to Mango’s office to take a test as part of a job application? It didn’t make sense, so I decided to do a background check on Mango. They were another IT firm working with ERP systems based in the US. Their site told the story of how they were a new company formed by merging two other companies. Feedback across the internet revealed that they had the same problems as Flower – senior management/employees were let off while cheaper newbies filled their place.

I can understand some people being let off as part of a merger between two firms – it happens. But a repeat of the ‘replace experienced people with new guys’ story? That was too much of a coincidence. It made me wonder – why did Mango go through a merger in the first place? Did one company buy another or did higher management suddenly decide to become chummy with each other? Back to investigating it was.

Turns out that Mango used to be two different companies which worked in the ERP space. A couple of years ago, an equity firm came by and bought them. Rather than having two subsidies competing with each other publicly, the equity firm decided to merge the two firms instead – that was how Mango was born. The name of this equity firm? Yellow.

Finally, the relationship between Flower and Mango was becoming clearer – they belonged to the same owner; Yellow equity. And if history is any indication, it looked like Yellow was in a buying spree to purchase whatever firms it could get in the ERP space and merge them into one large company. Which means that sooner or later Flower would be merged with Mango.

The mergers don’t bother me. What bugged me was the way Yellow was handling its employees. No matter which site I looked into, the general opinion I got was that after Yellow bought a company, it would lay off its senior IT department (or at least get rid of whoever they could) and replace them with newbies.

Still, as far as I was concerned, they were willing to check me out and I needed a job. If it meant dealing with environments of multiple firms – so be it. For better or worse, two days after the test Flower got back to me saying that I didn’t pass. Regardless, I have to say that it was an interesting experience!