Friday, 13 September 2013

for sale

I ended yesterday mentioning the sale of the company I work for.

At the time I talked a lot about "cake".  I may have subsequently explained this, but the cake in question was actually an employee share scheme.  Basically the Managing Director wants to retire.  To do this she needs to sell the company so that she can release a nice pot of money for her to go away with.

However, if you say to all the employees "I'm selling the company so I can retire" they may not view that too kindly as it introduces a lot of uncertainty, particularly around who will take over and what the new conditions will be like.  This would therefore generally encourage the employees to look for new jobs, so by having the share scheme you effectively promise to give away a chunk of that sale money so that those people hang around.

My problem is that basically I've ended up with a share option, rather than actual shares.  This option means that I have the option to buy the shares at a later date at a reduced price.  The idea therefore being I sell the shares immediately as part of the whole sale and the difference between what they pay and what I get is therefore a nice sum of money.

But there are some problems.

The company is currently worth nothing.  Now this is deliberate as it's basically a way of minimising tax, but it also means that the shares I've got are next to worthless.  If sold the next day I wouldn't even have been able to pay off my smallest credit card debt.

Now in some ways that's a good thing in that it means they have the potential for the maximum gain, but the real problem is that I have no idea how many shares there are total and what my proportion of those shares is, and I only have vague ideas what the company is currently worth, what it might sell for eventually, and there are no mechanisms to know how the company/share value is changing.

So, to use some simple numbers, it's all very well knowing that at the start I have the option to buy 1,000 at 10p each and sell them at 20p each.  That means I would get £100.  But I have no way of knowing if the value of the shares has doubled across the year or tripled, or halved or what.

The other issue over the proportion of shares makes things even more complicated.  Basically, for example, there are actually 1,000 shares, and what they've done is take, say, 100 of those shares, turn that into 1,000 shares, revalue them, and then distribute them to the employees.

This makes things very complicated to calculate the actual value of the shares.  With the above numbers, if they sold each original share for £1, that means that the 100 shares would be worth £100, but as I say, they've then made each of the actual shares distributed 1/10 of those shares, so actually we get shares worth 10p each.  This means it might seem attractive to us to sell the shares at £1, but then we only get 10% of that.  Or, remember, we need to buy these shares at 5p each, so really we get 5% of the value.

But of course I don't know the real numbers.  So if I've been given 1,000 shares is that a big proportion of the total pot?  Have I got 10% of the shares?  Or 0.01%?  And this really matters because it affects what I actually stand to make, but I can't know, so it's all a bit meaningless.

It's like if I give you a million spondulics, have I just given you a fortune or nothing at all?  Of course you didn't have any spondulics to start with, so in a way you've got a fortune, but only in spondulic terms.

I've been with the company the longest, which from what I was told means I have a bigger proportion of the shares.  But then I was told a lot about the share scheme when I agreed to stay on and only a small proportion of it has turned out to be true.  Firstly I was told there would be dividends.  Well, there are no dividends on share options.  I don't own any shares, so I've nothing to receive a dividend on.

It also transpires that the shares have been divided up based on seniority as the most important factor, rather than length of service.  I mean, that's a factor, but seniority is a more important factor and of course I'm in the "middle" tier, so I'm pretty sure I have less shares than the directors, even though they've only been here a couple of years and I've been here more than a decade.

And here's the other thing - I'm underpaid.  I've also been underpaid for the last five years when I didn't have a single pay rise, despite the rapidly escalating cost of living.

I have debt because I was underpaid (well, that and me being a fucking moron).  So what's better, getting a new job that pays the market rate now?  Or gambling that the amount I get down the line is sufficient to make up for that underpayment+ a little more?

Well looking at some numbers I can't make the latter make sense.  Plus, as mentioned, I don't really enjoy working here any more.

So why stay?  Particularly since it will be at least three years before the company is actually sold.  I can't stay here three years - I can't stay six months.  Did I mention I don't enjoy working here any more?

Thursday, 12 September 2013


So I thought I'd do the first blog about why I've not been having much fun just recently.

Unfortunately it's become very apparent to me that my decision to stay on at my current employer last year was a big mistake.

I'm really not enjoying work.

All the same crap still seems to happen.  I had thought that some of the reason for me staying on was to help introduce some better ways of doing things, but basically they've all been either ignored or actively disregarded.

I'll give you a very good example - we've recently introduced a new Contact Management System.  Now, Contact Management is key to what I do - bid management.

However, at no stage have I been asked my opinion or in any way included in the process.

The old thing we used to use was a bespoke system put together by one of the employees and it was bobbins.  It was full of fields that nobody understood, nobody used to fill it out anyway and there was never any training to explain anything.  The problem being it wasn't properly designed - it was thrown together and packed full of "wouldn't it be nice if it" stuff.

Guess what's happened with the new system?

It's full of stupid fields that are either pointless or nobody understand the purpose of / what to put in there.  And there's not been any training.

Part of the problem is they've bought something that is a product - it is an "out of the box" thing.  Now there are a few ways they could have gone that would have worked:

  • Get a complete bespoke solution, a bit like the old one, but made by professionals.
  • Get an existing solution and either:
  1. Pay to make it bespoke
  2. Modify the processes and procedures of the company to match the product.

Guess what they've done?

They've kept the out of the box product and added in loads of fields that mimic the crap the old system used to have.  So the problem is they're trying to make it bespoke when the product itself is set up such that in other to make it bespoke in any useful sense you have to get a programmer in to change stuff.

A programmer who costs a lot of money.  And they're not willing to spend any money.

This bespoking has also been done by someone who is not that way inclined - he's not a programmer, not an analyst and really not at all suited to the job.  And it's been "managed" by the MD.  Who has started taking loads of holidays and breaks like she has already retired and is focused on trying to sell the company.

Which is the other thing, but I will continue with that tomorrow.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

underworld: awakening

I wasn't sure what to expect with this fourth film in the underworld series.

I enjoyed the first one quite a bit, but found the second one underwhelming and a little confusing.  The third film was actually a prequel and was okay, but really Selene (Beckinsale's character) was the only one that was interesting and she wasn't really in it.

This fourth one does star Selene, but also introduces a daughter (sort of).  Now when actresses and characters get older there seems to be a bit of a thing for them acquiring children.  I mean, don't get me wrong, obviously people get older and have children, but when those characters are odd (vampires or superheroes or whatever) the children thing is also normally odd (not really a child, but a clone or whatever).

I dunno, you can get some weird stuff in order to force the film down the whole maternal instinct path.  And that's basically the case here - the maternal thing is pretty much crowbarred in.

However, if you set that aside, I actually quite enjoyed the film.  Selene is still quite an interesting character and it doesn't hurt that Beckinsale seems even more gorgeous (she may be of equal gorgeousness, but the previous films were a long time ago!).  I mean, don't get me wrong, the story was a bit poor, constructed of quite a lot of clich├ęs, but then if you're watching the fourth Underworld film, why would you be expecting anything less?

No, what I enjoyed was the visual look of the film, the action and the special effects.

Now it's not all great the film was shot in 3D and there were a few of those stupid moment they always build in to have stuff flying out at the audience but then look daft when you watch them non-3D (and daft in 3D if you're of that persuasion) but it wasn't too bad here.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013


I've been having a terrible time sleeping just recently.

I've been doing a bit of research (always dangerous!) and there's a suggestion it might be a form of insomnia.  It's not the sort of insomnia you generally think of, where you have trouble getting to sleep, but instead I keep waking up in the middle of the night.

Specifically I've been waking up at around 1AM-4AM for the last 2 weeks.

That's quite a range and what actually appears to be happening is the waking point is drifting earlier and earlier.  So I was generally waking at about 4AM when it first started, but on Sunday night it was 1AM.

It seems to be happening irrespective of the actual time I go to sleep as well.  So if I go to sleep at 8PM then it happens, but if I go to sleep at 12PM it also still happens.  Of course in the former case that means I've gotten a good chunk of sleep and in the latter I've only gotten a few hours.  However of course in the former it means having no life.

There's also the problem of reinforcement.

By that I mean that by playing to the timetable (going to bed early in the expectation I'll wake in the middle of the night) it will reinforce the pattern.  And, indeed, instead of being insomnia there's a good chance that is what it really is.  It's something I've always been susceptible too - over holidays and weekends I will wake up when my alarm would go off and start to fall asleep at my usual time.

The insomnia is called Middle-of-the-night insomnia, which is a rather uninspired name, but it is actually something that seems to be well known.  There are some possible medical reasons, but basically it seems to be down to stress, which would match well with all the rubbish stuff that's been happening to me and I still haven't posted about yet.

The frustrating side of it is that I don't have any trouble getting to sleep.  No actually, the frustrating side of it is that when I wake up in the middle of the night I initially feel great and rested like I've had a good night's sleep and I think Finally "I've slept through".

It's then only after about half an hour that I start to think "hang on, why is my alarm not going off?" and then look at my curtains for the tell-tale cracks of light that indicate daylight, which I don't see and then I think "oh for fuck's sake, not again".

I then go for a pee and check how bad it is by checking my phone, which is when it gets annoying.

If I get up then by normal day time I'll be shattered.  If I try to watch a bit of telly or similar before going back to bed I'll have woken up enough to have the same effect.  If I read for a bit I get bored and then lay there often not able to get back to sleep.  And if I just try to go back to sleep my mind races and 9 times out of 10 it doesn't work properly.

Even if it does work, the quality of sleep seems to be poor and I am still tired all day.

Monday, 9 September 2013

italian grand prix

Well, that was a lot better than I was expecting.

I have to confess I wasn't really looking forward to Monza as my memory of it is as a circuit where it's very difficult to overtake, but that didn't appear to be the case this weekend as there was a lot of action on the track.  Indeed it also seemed to disprove what I was saying about the DRS, but that wasn't quite as it might have appeared.

Basically because Monza is so high speed (I think it only has about 6 corners!) they all use a special low-down force package, and of course that means the rear wing is quite skinny.  As such the DRS (which basically opens a hole in the rear wing to reduce its drag) doesn't have a huge impact.  That means it generally allowed them to get into overtaking position without just driving past.

I mean, that wasn't always the case - there were some drive pasts, but even these weren't as daft as they were at Spa, for example, with the drivers able to defend a bit and then fight back at the next corner.

Unfortunately it was also a bit of a weird weekend.

Riciardo was confirmed as Webber's replacement at Red Bull, but the whole rest of driver situation is quite messy.  It seems like Raikonen is likely to go back to Ferrari, and Alonso wasn't happy.  Well, the feeling was that that was a big part of why Alonso wasn't happy.  He could easily have been unhappy at how the weekend went generally.

It's odd - the Mercedes has generally qualified well this season and then gone backwards on race day, where the Ferrari seems to qualify poorly then do really well during the race.  Reliability issues aside, I think Alonso has always finished some way above where he qualified.

And mentioning Mercedes, they had a bit of a shocker.  Hamilton said he made a mess of qualifying, but I think that was overly harsh.  Rosberg didn't actually do that much better, it was more that Hamilton messed up his quick laps in 2nd qualifying.

However, his radio then failed during the race, so he couldn't hear them calling him in for his pit stops, for example.  He did make up a couple of spots, taking him into the points, but it was clear he felt he could & should have done a lot better across the weekend.

I have to say it now looks like Vettel is going to take the driver's championship as the others just haven't been able to deliver a consistent challenge.