Losing my hair and losing my mind in Western New York

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Game Over

Well kiddies, it's official. Time Warner and Comcast have bought Adelphia.

In an e-mail sent out to employees and in a press release sent out today, Adelphia's Board of Directors accounced that it has accepted a $17 billion offer from Time Warner and Comcast to buy out Adelphia. This will include nearly all of Adelphia's assets in the 31 states where they have service.

What does this mean to me? Well, it means that in about 6 months to a year I may very well be out of work. Of course, this sale has yet to be approved by the Bankruptcy Courts, and there are some objections from a few of the more powerful shareholders, but I think it's safe to say that it's pretty much all over but the shouting at this point.

Now, according to the e-mail, part of the deal was that many of us would be offered work at both Time Warner and Comcast. This means that I may NOT lose my job, I would just start answering the phones differently. It may also mean new opportunities for myself and others, and job losses for many too.

What does this mean for our customers? Well, they will be sending thier bill to a new location, and that's pretty much it. Some of the service offerings may change, and some things will cost more, some less. In the end I doubt our customers will really notice all that much. Adelphia will simply slip into history, and in 10 years few if any will remember it ever existed.

As far as WHERE they will be sending thier bill, here is how the systems will be divvied up;

Time Warner will be getting Maine, New York State, California (except Mendocino), North and South Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Erie, Coudersport, Emporium, and Port Alleghany PA, Richards, Boydton and Chase City Virginia, Williamstown MA, and the Western Region, excluding Colorado Springs and Cowlitz City WA.

Comcast will be getting New England (except Maine and Williamstown MA) Florida, Virginia (Except Richlands, Boydton and Chase City), Pennsylvania (Except Erie, Coudersport, Emporium and Port Allegheny), Colorado Springs, Maryland, West Virginia (Except Upshur and Tyler Counties), Georgia, Tennessee, Cowlitz County WA, and Mendocino CA.

As far as Employees go, which groups will be going to which company is still private information and I really can't talk about that. But the system info is publicly available on the Internet, so I felt it was safe to mention.

I'm sure you will be hearing more and more about this in the coming days, and likely Adelphia, Time Warner, and Comcast will be sending out lots of information in the coming weeks and months regarding the transition to all of thier current and new subscribers. We Employees will also likely be getting more info, some of which I will be able to talk about, some which I will have to stay mum on, I will bring you the info that's appropriate when I have it, as well as talking about other things that are important to me as well.

I would like wish all the my co-workers the very best of luck in the coming year, we worked hard at making Adelphia a great company, and can take pride in all that we've accomplished. I'm sure that will go a long way towards us continuing on with the our new Employers. But just in case, make sure you have those resumes polished. You might need them.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Now I'm worried

I haven't mentioned my source of employ up to this point, as it is not really the focus of my blog. But at this time I should mention that the Weary Man is an Adelphia Employee. I work for the upper level tech support in the Buffalo division. As such, I feel it's important to comment on some of the things that have been going on in the media regarding Adelphia. Now, I won't get into corporate politics or insider info. I really don't think that is appropriate and several well publicized firings have led me to believe that it isn't really safe in todays corporate climate. However, I do think it's appropriate to post my thoughts and feelings regarding well known publicly available incidents and information. Just be aware that these are MY thoughts and NOT an official corporate position.

Ok, now that I have the disclaimers out of the way I'll get down to the meat of my comment.

As you can see by the link, Comcast and Time Warner have come to an agreement on what they will bid for Adelphia's Cable systems. What is NOT being reported is that this is just an agreement to bid. NOT a final sale. Of course, this is pretty much what the Adelphia Stockholders have been wanting, 18 billion to buy out the company. This also includes some non-cash items to round out the purchase, which is not exactly what was wanted, but the price is right so a sale is likely.

What does this mean for employees like myself? Well for the immediate future, not much. If and when a sale goes through, I think it is fair to say that we will continue to have jobs for the next 6 months to a year. Generally speaking, when a corporate buyout takes place, the only people who lose thier jobs right away are the people at the top such as the CEO and his entourage. Of course, don't feel too bad for them, big meaty severance packages are the norm for upper echelon management, so they will do fine.

For those of us further down the coporate chain things will likely be different. In some ways better, in other ways not so much. For starters, as I said before, I would imagine that most employees at my level will continue to have thier jobs for a while to come. But after that point it is likely that many of us would be redundant and will find our positions eliminated. Being in the Tech Support Center for the High Speed Internet division here in Buffalo NY, I would imagine that my job will be among the first to go when the cuts start happening. This area of the country abuts a Time-Warner region, so we will most likely go to Time-Warner.

Unfortunately for those of us in Buffalo, Time Warner has a tech support division just like ours located in Rochester NY. This makes our group doubly redundant. Not only does Time-Warner have a group that does what we do, but they already have one in our region of the country. So I would imagine that I will be out of a job 3-6 months after a sale goes through. If we are really lucky, it will take as long as a year for everything to vet out and they close the Buffalo Call Center. But I'm not holding my breath.

Once the call center closes, there is a good chance many of us will also recieve severance packages as well. I'm told that this is something of the norm for large corporate takeovers. Most normal employees (ie: not in upper management) usually receive a severance package of 3-6 months of pay after thier positions are eliminated and they are let go. Sometimes it's as much as a year, but I wouldn't expect that myself. So sometime between 6 months and a year after the sale goes through the money runs out and we all better have new jobs or it's off to the unemployment office for us.

This is where things really get sticky. You see, the Adelphia Call Center is the largest single IT employer in the Buffalo region. Once it closes, there really won't be many places for all of those people to go. After years of Liberal Democrat rule in this area, businesses aren't exactly lining up to come to Buffalo. New York State in general, and Erie County and Buffalo in particular have been impoverished by years of excessive taxes and over regulation. Businesses and talent have been fleeing the area for the last 30 years. As time has gone on, the exodus has only increased.

Ironically, Buffalo and Western New York have one of the best IT infrastructures in the US. We have more Fiber optic in place than many "IT Capitols" such as Austin, Texas. Also, Buffalo's location is strategic in that they are right near Canada, and astride one of the largest international communications hubs in North America. Unfortunately, this incredible advantage has been squandered by local and state politicians who would rather line thier pockets with pork and patronage. All the while raising taxes higher and higher and driving IT companies out of the region. Most of the Fiber Optic lines in Western New York are dark and unused, and luring any new companies to the area is nearly impossible due to excessive regulation.

And this is the situation that many local Adelphia employees will find themselves in if /when the axe does finally fall and they are out of work. Few to no jobs and an economy that will make it hard for them to start thier own businesses, or to sell thier houses and move to another area of the country. Personally, I will probably be looking at moving. As much as I like this area (it really is a nice place to live, despite the economy) I just won't be able to afford to stay here. I would imagine that many Adelphia employees will find themselves in a similar situation. Many will leave the area looking for greener pastures, and the local talent bleed will continue.

No matter what happens, good or bad, it's going to be a while before we really know anything. So the best we can do for now is just wait it out and hope for the best. Wish us all luck. I fear we are going to need it.