companies seem to be veering into their own version of "too big to fail."
That's not to say these companies are economically mismanaged messes, the result of pathetic regulation, or their collapse will destroy the world economy. In fact, all are more reliable, if not far more reliable than many of these botched institutions. They're too big to fail in that they're so widespread, and have so much potential (realized and unrealized), that they're not going away – and I suspect they rely on this.
Think about how many companies that people are:
A) Dependent on.
B) Use constantly even if they're not entirely necessary.
C) Have huge mindshare and potential – even if not exploited.
Consider a few companies:
* Google. Google is practacally a public untility for the world. It's not going away.
* Twitter. As much as there's talk of twitter dying (in between talks of how great Twitter is) the fact is people are used to it. It's not going away.
* Adobe. Adobe is a fixture in the grapics market and it has Flash, the "Operating System" for many online games.
* Facebook. Facebook is something millions can't imagine not having.
These and many more companies are fixtures on the internet. If they are hit with problems they will be bought out, re-organized, re-invested in, sold off in pieces, anything but just fading away or collapsing immediately (note the word "immediately"). This is important for your career.
For the progeek this has a few repercussions:
1) Working at the right spot on one of these "too big to fail" is probably a sweet deal. It's just knowing where that IS that's the pain.
2) If you use the services of "too big to fail" companies you can probably count on them to survive in the large. This helps planning – in fact, you may want to ask just what IS Too Big To Fail.
3) The prominence of these companies opens them up to regulation, etc. Keep that in mind when working there or working with them.
4) The prominance may also bring competitors who are in win-win – they may have a tough haul, but they know there's a market.
5) They're not there forever. They can fade or shrink. They may not fail, but it doesn't mean it'll stay totally the same forever. If you're in a "too big to fail" company, keep in mind where you'll be if there are cuts. Is your position safe?
So, the Too Big To Fail of Technology? Keep aware of it – and see what strategies it gives you for your career.
– Steven Savage