Halo and Goodbye - Are you sure you want to be bought by a big company?

Roger Ehrenberg offers some thoughts about Microsoft's unbundling of Bungie Studios, the developers of Halo 3, who they bought several years back, likening it to the situation inside Investment Banks.

The headline is that Bungie have regained their independence with Microsoft retaining a small stake. But it is also the message that this sends about working inside Microsoft. No matter how "cool" the 5th column's "Blue Monster" may be, their exit says a few things including:

- it is a stiffling experience working inside Microsoft
- we weren't getting paid commensurate with our contribution

Now, I suspect Microsoft execs may not see it that way. But then they don't have to deal with the HR, Legal, PR.......teams that put procedural overload ahead of nimbleness.

Roger's Translation: it sucked for Bungie working inside Microsoft. Sure, it was great to get the money back in 2000, I mean, $20-$40 million is a lot of money for a bunch of developer nerdos. They made a rational economic decision - at the time. But creative types tend not to like rigid, overbearing, highly opinionated bureaucracies, and this dynamic caused the mutual benefits wear thin, pretty fast. Further, it was clear that Bungie was developing valuable IP for which they were likely not getting paid what they should, because every big company's argument is: "The success is largely due to our brand and PR might. Yeah, the game is good but without our backing it wouldn't have been nearly as successful." This is akin to the annual bonus confab that takes place at every bulge bracket firm which goes something like: "Yes, you generated a lot of revenues this year. But lets face it, our brand and franchise value got you a lot of those deals. So really, much of the revenues is attributable to the firm, not your skill." This is a fight that has been going on since time immemorial. But as it is with top teams, be they trading teams or development teams, they ultimately have the hammer. Because they can simply walk and say "No more (games/money) for you."

So be careful what you wish for in hoping to be snapped up by a big company - you became an entrepreneur to get away from the shackles of employment, and whilst you may get a big payday, you may also have to buckle down to big company hell for a few years to see it materialise.

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posted by John Wilson @ 5:48 PM Permanent Link newsvine reddit



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