HSG Layoffs, Musings on NewCo Culture


I have noticed that much of the last few days’ search traffic to this site clusters around themes related to the recent HSG/GE Healthcare JV, the accompanying HSG layoff, wondering what will happen to the customers, etc. In an attempt to stay true to my roots as a marketer, here’s an attempt to give my readers what they seem to want:

I’ve had twenty or so conversations with former HSG colleagues over the past week. Some of these folks were affected by the layoff, some were not. Most of the salespeople seem to have been unaffected. Between last week’s layoff and the attrition leading up to it, about half of the marketing and product management team is gone. I’ve heard reports that most of the physicians were affected and that up to half of the engineering team was let go. By my rough calculation, that totals 25-35% of the overall headcount at HSG. 

It’s hard to describe how it feels to hear this news. These are all extremely smart, passionate, hard-working people. Microsoft simply doesn’t hire people who don’t clear that bar. My message to each of those affected has been something along the lines of: This turn of events is not a consequence of your abilities or your work. Now is a good time to be looking for a job in this industry. Contact me if you need help networking.

On the topic of NewCo, it will be interesting to see how those invited to participate undertake their decision process over the next few weeks. I wonder how the merger of GE and HSG cultures will happen, or whether it will happen at all. HSG grew rapidly by acquisition and a pervasive culture never really had a chance to coalesce. The Azyxxi people were still Azyxxi people, and the same was true for the GCS and Sentillion people as well as the team that built HealthVault. Perhaps the emergence of a strong strategy to tie these assets together was a prerequisite for a strong culture to evolve as the teams came together to achieve a common goal.

An interesting litmus test: Will there be equity participation for the rank-and-file NewCo employees? Microsoft traditionally prides itself on having all employees participate in stock ownership, GE typically reserves equity grants for executives. Perhaps the answer to this question will foretell which way the rest of the NewCo culture will lean.

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