The End of an Era (for all those involved with Radian6)

Salesforce.com…

I was working for Radian6 on the day it was announced that we were being purchased by global enterprise software company Salesforce.com.  It was a day filled mostly with excitement, as most of us realised that our stock options would suddenly acquire value, particularly those who had been around since the beginning. I had joined Radian6 during it’s adolescence I suppose, so for me it became a nice bonus; for others, it was their ticket to freedom from debt, or a new porsche (see here for my thoughts on that).

There was a slight sense of trepidation in the room as well… would our roles be relocated to San Francisco (Salesforce’s HQ)?  Would we all keep our jobs?  These fears were quickly dismissed by executives from our side (r6) and theirs (SF), who assured us that it was business as usual, just under new ownership.  We even got to keep our logo and a measure of autonomy, so we were happy.

Radian6 was a great place to work.  I studied (and enjoyed) geology in university, but due to life circumstances I ended up out of my field for a bit, living in Fredericton.  When the opportunity/recommendation came up to take a job in customer support with Radian6, I was more than a little hesitant.  I thought customer support jobs were Bad.  We were basically living in poverty at the time, but I still resisted the many recommendations I’d received to look into Radian6.  When I finally gave in and applied (interviewed, accepted, etc.) I was very pleasantly surprised.  For one thing, the business/product itself was very cool.  More significantly, the work atmosphere was excellent.

I’m usually really slow to bond with colleagues, just slow to let people into my life in general I guess.  I’m not really sure why or when that started, but in the past few years I’ve found myself very hesitant when it comes to combining work life and personal life.  I’m not sure if I like it this way, but that’s beside the point.  At Radian6, I immediately felt like part of a close-knit team of friends more than colleagues.  We all pitched in to help each other solve cases, and there was an endless supply of jokes and light-hearted banter.  There was an incredible amount of trust going both ways (from management to us and vice versa).  We saw the company executives all the time, wandering around on the same level as us, even drinking the same free drinks and eating the same free snacks that came with salesforce acquisition.  Times were good!

Alas, in summer of 2011 I received an offer out of the blue to go work in my own field in Australia, so… well, sorry Radian6, but there are some opportunities one ought not just let slip by.  Besides, the timing was uncanny (but that’s another story).  We left for Australia with a great deal of excitement, although I still often miss my co-workers and the fun times we had at Radian6, to this day.

Now, given the latest news, I’m afraid it’s all spoiled.  It’s the end of an era that we felt assured would not come.  I’m afraid it’s never going to be the same, and in a selfish way I’m glad I’m not a part of it.  You see, nobody wins now.  Sorry Marcel and co., but I highly doubt that the trust that was established amongst your employees at all levels can continue.  There are two ways of looking at it: either you (plural) personally made the decision to let all these people go, thus crushing the whole “we’ve been bought out by the big guys but we’ll remain a successful, autonomous, local operation” notion yourself; or, your will was overridden by those above you, leaving you powerless to combat the tide of what you carried the company into.  Either way I’m afraid the employees left behind in the wake of today’s layoffs will realise/perceive that you are no longer on their side, or powerless in spite of your best intentions.  It’s an awful situation to be in, for all parties involved.

Would things have been different if Radian6 had stayed local?  I’m no business man, but I can’t help but think Radian6 was sustainable on its own.  Were we not pleasing customers and making money?  Whatever, what’s done is done, but today I’m grieving for my friends who lost their jobs and for the ones who’ve been left behind to dwell in an environment where the word from the top is no longer trustworthy.  I’m sure business will carry on just fine from the outside, but I think some of the soul will be lost.

Maybe I’m being melodramatic (I have a tendency to lean that way), but I do believe this marks the end of an era.  I’m grateful for the experience I had during the Radian6 golden years.  To those who have been let go, I strongly recommend taking the opportunity to start a new thing; something you’ve been passionate about/interested in for a long time but never felt like you could make the transition to.   This might be your only chance for such a fresh start, while you’re still relatively young (most of us working there were!).  Radian6ers are smart, versatile, clever people – that is what got us the jobs; use those skills to succeed at whatever you attempt next.  I wish you all the very best of luck and pray that you will find peace amidst this hardship.

Anyone who has the ability (and freedom) to do so, feel free to tweet this out on my behalf if you like, since I deleted my Twitter account a couple of months ago.

À la prochaine.

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