Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Incarna (Walking in Stations) is Officially Dead + Life Stages of a Tech Company

Okay, not officially, but now that CCP has all but abandoned World of Darkness, the main motivation for developing the NEX store, the graphics engine behind Incarna, and the jobs of 20% of the CCP workforce (about 100 people) is gone. What the player base wanted the player base got. Incarna is dead. Make no mistake, we will not see establishments nor any other walking in stations beyond the 3 additional captains quarters for the foreseeable future.

If you have been involved in IT as long as I have (pre dot-com boom to present) none of this is surprising. There is a very common life-span for most tech companies.

1. Founding - An innovative idea leads to the development of an innovative product.
2. Exponential Growth - As the product becomes popular growth and revenue doubles yearly or better
3. Executives Take Credit - The founder and other execs take credit for their awesome achievement ignoring that it was purely dumb luck and some timing that separates them from failed competition
4. Over-expansion - Knowing that they are fundamentally better then other companies the exponentially grow their workforce.
5. Disappointing Revenue - Ultimately revenue stops growing exponentially, while the workforce continues to grow at a ever increasing rate.
6. Arrogance - The executives, not understanding what has changed to stop exponential growth, continue to promise more and more while the company delivers less and less. Hope springs eternal at this point.
7. Failure - Company looses money, executives laid off with small golden parachute, workers screwed.
8. Dissolution or Continue as smaller company - says it all.

All tech companies seem to follow this. Some very large ones (I.B.M., Microsoft) sort of hit a a steady state that is still large for phase 8. Some even go through the cycle multiple times (Apple - currently starting phase 5 having gone from phase 8 to phase 2 around 1997). CCP seems to have finally hit phase 7.

All that is left is to ponder, will CCP be gone in a year? or will they continue to operate as a smaller entity? There is an outside chance of starting over at phase 2 once everything has crashed.

What would be ideal, is not a rebirth of CCP, but rather for them to understand that they need to operate as a smaller company, live within their means... and try and achieve excellence in the one thing that they have going for them.... EVE Online. The very worst thing that could possible happen is for Dust 514 to be a overnight hit moving CCP back to phase 2, generate $50 million in revenue overshadowing EVE Online only to collapse a year later leaving a broken company.

On a side note I will say to any of my readers who are laid off by CCP, life goes on. Don't take being laid-off as a personal failure, rather just consider it an opportunity for a new beginning. I myself have been laid-off several times. Once two weeks before my first child was born. As difficult as it was each time I have always found a better job in the end. May you all find happiness in your future endeavors.

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