A while back, I hypothesized that women don’t go into computer science because it is a high-risk field. Today I want to share some anecdotal evidence from my own experience about how risky high-tech is. Since I turned 18, I have worked at many places, both as a contractor, summer intern, and regular full-time employee. Of the seven companies where I have a regular job, five ran out of money, one got bought, and one no longer makes the product I worked on. None of the companies I worked for were profitable when I left.
- Intel. While the company still exists, they got out of the DRAM business (which is the product I worked on).
- Vitesse Electronics. Vitesse ran out of money, shed one of its two divisions, and reorganized into Vitesse Semiconductor. (Vitesse laid off 12% of its workforce today, by the way.)
- Quad Design Technology. Bought by Viewlogic, which then got bought by Synopsis. (While this does count as a success, it was struggling when I left.)
- Arete. (Changed its name to Arix shortly after I started.) Went bankrupt.
- Interval Research. Closed by the owner (Paul Allen).
- World Wide Webfoot Press. Closed by the owner (me).
- Open Source Applications Foundation. Still in existence as a public-benefit foundation and open-source project, but now has no paid staff.
- NexGen (2 years). Bought by AMD. (This counts as an eventual success, but it took them eight years, three product cycles, and I-don’t-know-how-many-rounds-of-funding before they released their first product.)
- Cray Research (3 weeks). Bought by SGI, then sold to Tara Computer, which took over the Cray name.
- Data General (2 weeks). Bought by EMC.
- SGI (6 months). Filed for bankruptcy today.
- Apple (6 months). While the company still exists, they no longer make printers, which is the product I worked on.
- Sun Microsystems (6 months). In talks with IBM for IBM to buy Sun. Update: IBM didn’t buy Sun, but Oracle did.
- Triquest (1 month). Gone.
- Chicago Tribune (1 week). Still in business, but I wouldn’t bet on it being in business next year.
- EIT. Bought by VeriFone, which was then bought by HP. (This counts as a success!)
- Google. Still in business!
I realize that I’m probably on one long tail of the distribution, while my husband is on the other end. (Jim worked for Adobe for 16 years, and Adobe is still in business!) However, it shows that working in high-tech does have risks.