Top 6 Signs Your Company is Being Raided

Despite however it’s being sold by the top brass.

U.S. truck engine maker Cummins Inc said on Tuesday it will buy auto parts maker Meritor Inc for $2.58 billion in cash, to beef up its electric and hybrid vehicle parts offerings amid a boom in demand for climate-friendly transport.

Source: Engine maker Cummins to buy Meritor for $2.6 bln in electric parts push

On the occasion of Cummins buying Meritor, I find myself reminiscing about the time when Meritor “merged” with Arvin — the other Fortune 250 that used to be headquartered in Columbus, Indiana — and then proceeded to follow the plan from the university-standard textbook on corporate raiding. I’m pretty naive, so I didn’t see it coming, but as I reflected on everything that happened in the 3 years after the “merger” — until Meritor spun the last piece of Arvin out to private equity — there were lots of moves being made that should have made it obvious that the plan sold to the employees and the public wasn’t really what the top brass was doing.

In somewhat particular order, as this was how I saw it unfold…

6. Middle management creates “integration” groups of low-level people who are supposed to decide how departments will be reorganized. The problem here is that, if top brass really cared, they wouldn’t have put low level people on the committees, and left it to people who had been at the company for mere months to decide how things should be done..

5. Senior management — division VP’s — from the “bought” company start pulling the rip cords on their golden parachutes. Fortune-500-sized public companies just can’t resist sending out company-wide emails talking about these moves, regardless of the fact that relatively few people are actually impacted by them. But, in this case, they do this quietly, and spaced out, so it’s harder to detect the pattern.

4. The combined company throws away excellent, industry-recognized, practical, company-wide training for ridiculous, non-sensical “training” that means nothing, and has no effect on productivity. For instance, if the “training” has a module where everyone has to take off their shoes, crawl around on the floor on all fours, and complete some stupid group activity while a coach is yelling instructions at them, all while annoying music is playing loudly on a boom box, in order to show that “communication is ‘hard’,” that training may be useless.

3. The combined company immediately sells a strategic facility that was just completed, after literally decades of everyone telling them they should build it. Bonus points if they sell the facility to a supplier, so that they are now stuck buying a critical component at a higher price.

2. The company starts selling other non-critical, yet-highly-profitable businesses. Of course, this might make sense to the business anyway, but the timing is suspect. As time passes, you will start seeing the larger, and more important divisions go, and this should really set off your alarms.

1. Both companies are majority-owned by investment banks, but the company makes a big deal about selling the idea to the public. The deal would have already been a foregone conclusion based on the backroom deals. Why bother with the song and dance?

I only learned this last one after everything else had settled, but it wouldn’t have changed anything. Turns out that a lot of blue chip companies are majority-owned by investment banks, and there’s a whole other conversation to be had about why Wall Street banks not only run so much of the economy, but also seem to own a large portion of the “means of production” as well. I guess it’s just our modern world, but it seems like a fragility just waiting for another disaster to fall apart.

Tesla Will Build ‘GigaTexas’ to Crank Out Cybertrucks | WIRED

The site will be the first to crank out the company’s Cybertruck—the company near-dystopian all-electric pickup announced last fall— and Semi, now both set to debut in 2021. (emphasis mine)

Source: Tesla Will Build ‘GigaTexas’ to Crank Out Cybertrucks | WIRED

A certain Diesel engine manufacturer should be worried. Say whatever you want about Musk and Tesla, and hype versus reality, but there’s enough institutional money behind him and his company now to fix any problem and outspend anyone else in the electrified cargo-hauling space.

H-1B Visas, Facebook, and Cummins

I ran across an article about Facebook’s use of H-1B visas in my news crawl. This part really caught my eye:

Since 2017, as part of his promise to “hire American,” the Trump administration has been denying record numbers of H-1B visas—those offered to high skilled workers with bachelor’s and advanced degrees, including many engineers at Facebook, Amazon, and Google. In the three years that Trump has been in office, the denial rate for H-1B visas has risen from 10 to 24 percent. The United States issues roughly 85,000 new H-1B visas each year. In 2018, 651 of those visas were granted to Facebook employees, the seventeenth most of any employer in the country.

Source: ‘Do Not Discuss the Incident,’ Facebook Told Employee Fired After Speaking About Worker Suicide – VICE

That got me curious. Around these parts, it’s obvious that Cummins is a big fan of the system, but I had no idea how much. If you click through that link from the article, you can see Cummins sits at 29th out of 30 largest users of the H-1B visa program! That was surprising to me!

From state-level data, we can see that, in Indiana, Cummins is #1, obviously.

I think both sets of numbers rather dramatically understate Cummins’ use of the H-1B visa program. Cummins employs lots of people through Tata, Infosys, KPIT, and, of course, my own employer, LHP. It seems like the counts in their totals that represent people working for Cummins ought be applied to Cummins’ count, and I’m assuming that this is same for the rest of the counts. I’m sure Tata and Infosys have people embedded in many of the other companies as well. I guess it doesn’t matter much in the end, but it would still be nice to remove the “consultancy indirection,” and just get final numbers for all of these companies. It would show who’s taking most advantage of the indirection.

Do other countries, like India and China, run programs like this, to get professionals from the US into their countries? I honestly don’t know, and any searches I do online seem to get redirected back to the H-1B program, because that’s all anyone seems to talk about, so it’s hard to tell.

Almost all visa holders I meet are be from India. Second place seems to go to people from various countries in Africa. China has about the same amount of people as India, and about as many as all of Africa combined, but I haven’t met any Chinese visa holders at Cummins. Mexico and Canada are right here on our borders. I’ve never even heard of someone from those countries working here under an H-1B visa. Why does it seem that the program is almost exclusively Indian? Again, I don’t know.

This is all very complex and fascinating to me. Maybe I should read a book and educate myself about the underlying dynamics. It’s just that I have so many books I’m already not reading…

China’s New Cybersecurity Program: NO Place to Hide | China Law Blog

This system will apply to foreign owned companies in China on the same basis as to all Chinese persons, entities or individuals. No information contained on any server located within China will be exempted from this full coverage program. No communication from or to China will be exempted. There will be no secrets. No VPNs. No private or encrypted messages. No anonymous online accounts. No trade secrets. No confidential data. Any and all data will be available and open to the Chinese government. Since the Chinese government is the shareholder in all SOEs and is now exercising de facto control over China’s major private companies as well, all of this information will then be available to those SOEs and Chinese companies. … All this information will be available to the Chinese military and military research institutes. The Chinese are being very clear that this is their plan.

Source: China’s New Cybersecurity Program: NO Place to Hide | China Law Blog

It will be very interesting to watch how Cummins’ new “cybersecurity” initiative deals with the fact that one cannot keep proprietary secrets from the Chinese government, if one wants to sell products in their country.

It will also be very interesting to watch how other Fortune 500 companies deal with this, just in terms of email, chat, and file-and-print services. American companies have been collectively brainwashed into overly-restrictive IT practices for decades now, based on second-hand interpretations of SOX and related laws, by huge consulting firms, and “peer pressure” from other companies also implementing unfounded restrictions. Now, none of those policies will be allowed in China. How does a global company go about setting up a system, say, for instance, where I’m not even allowed to see my chat history, for fear of legal repercussions, yet the Chinese government has full access to all logs, including the CEO’s, if he chats in China, or someone chats at him from China?