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When it’s a good time to rage a war against your competitor

Obviously, not when it’s strong, but how can you tell it’s vulnerable (?) because sure enough, the marketing machinery is claping hands all around, looks pink in its cheeks and joyful. Some people might invoke the signs of less innovation, but innovation is strategically released to the public, strictly as much as it needs to be, otherwise you might overheat the brain engine and waste company resources.

In general, a company reveals its innovations to showcase the competitive advantage and comfort its loyal customers as in “relax, no need to run away from us, we’re still relevant because on top of what the competitor X brought on the market, we did this and only now things are cool.”

Sometimes, not even profit paralysis can’t tell much of a story. Maybe the 20 years company’s strategy it is not profit at all but rather massive capital allurement. It’s like when you grow a child until the full age, developing his innovation and pivoting abilities, teach him about the importance of social influence, acquisition, loyalty tactics etc. From time to time an investor comes to see him basket some balls or running 100 yards and say “all right then, I’m betting my money on this boy because I think he eventually will turn into the goose with golden eggs”. All the money are being poured into market artificial dominance and even if it’s tempting to start making profit, it can decide to hold back on the principle “you don’t send out a 14 years old kid to keep a paying job unless the situation is deadly serious.” Moreover, you’re risking the family getting used to the new income even when the situation is far better, therefore won’t return to school to reach out his full potential.

The very sign of a weakness of a company is, of course, people. Who comes and leaves, the aggression of internal fights — because without exception, any company is self sabotaging more or less — what kind of people does it aim to hire and so on.

When I was in college I read some casuistry about the way US army used to recruit using advertising. The more likely a military conflict was about to emerge, to more patriotic and emotional the billboards were. Even a nerd could have easily imagined himself making the difference inside the heated war zone. And maybe he could have, what do I know after all? In peace time, the advertorial prints were more selective, aiming more towards people “made for the army” or trying to disinfest the society from homeless people. It’s easy to grasp the fact that during peace time, the army is provided with much less resources than war time because basically during a war, the entire country is engaged in it one way or another.

By analogy, I remember many years ago about the “soldiers” Google wanted to recruit for its army of developers. Was an article who made me clearly understand that it was in search not just for good professionals but also very disciplined ones because, well, who needs a poodle dog like genius who works chaotically and finishes nothing? So, back then, there were probably many young fellows at Google. Two years ago, Business Insider wrote, slapping its forehead sarcastically, that Google, after numerous studies, concluded that the most essential and indispensable quality that makes a team tick, is kindness. Maybe is fair to assume that ego and aggression of its own employees peaked dangerous heights, endangering the proper functioning of some departments. Maybe the ego was well justified because where do you go higher than Google? Nowhere. Finally, on June 10, Business Insider showed that Erich Schmidt (ex Google CEO) is seeking this time for people with curiosity and persistence traits, that could also “thrive in chaos”. Just after 4 days, under the title “The 24 tech companies losing top talent at an astonishing rate” Google is listed with 50% decrease since last year in CompanyRank. (Note: An employer’s CompanyRank score improves whenever someone joins the company from another top-ranked company and declines as employees leave and the company repopulates with talent from lower-ranked companies.) It is only fair to assume that nowadays Google is leaking good people. Strangely enough, Apple is nowhere to be found in the latest article so where is it? Behind those articles? Haha…

Recruitment companies data are themselves a golden mine. If, for example, the developers are more or less voicing over the fact there is no place for them in the company any longer because the management is conflicting, then it may be correct to compare the company with mental viscosity of a human being. As a VC (Venture Capitalist) you would only skip such investment opportunity.

To conclude, the innovation and profit indexes can be deceiving when hiding a strategy, but the type of workforce rejected vs. attracted might be a good indicator. When a big company screams for disciplined and kind people, it is likely facing turmoil and internal aggression and such an eroded army could lose even in front of a startup. Only then, I would say, it is time to rage a war.

But anway, why wait for an opportunity when you can create it? :)

Adrian Costea