The Official Blog of Cogmap, the Org Chart Wiki


Archive for the ‘Corporate Strategy’ Category


Is the Government even trying?

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

This isn’t a political post, but it is a funny story.

So, from time to time, because I live in DC, I get sucked into reading a government RFP. I was reading one that just came out about how the government wants a tool for searching twitter for terrorists tweeting when I saw this line:

This must be a secure, light-weight web application portal, using mash-up technology.

So that is a virtually meaningless, yet buzzword compliant line, specifying how the solution is built, but not what it does – A CLASSICALLY SILLY THING TO DO. But the next paragraph put me over the top:

The application must be infinitely flexible….

Are you serious? The great thing about asking for a product that does something infinite is that I know the price: Infinity!

  • Infinite scalability: Infinite hardware: Infinite price
  • Infinitely flexible: Infinite development time: Infinite price

Clearly, someone was thinking about how flexible the product needed to be and chose the word “infinite” to describe it. Serious engineers would laugh this person out of the room.

I am telling you now that someone will probably win this contract (it sounds like it was written with a very specific idea in mind, so it may be pre-sold) and that person will build something not infinitely flexible – unless your idea of infinitely flexible is “you own the code, so you can add whatever you want to it.” In which case, everything is infinitely flexible – I could hack the binary of Batman: Arkham City to be a word processor!

Honestly, who could write something like that.


New Economies and New Consultancies

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Lots of people have talked about how the economics of start-ups have changed. As costs have come down thanks to tools like MySQL, Amazon AWS, and free frameworks like Rails, where it used to require millions of dollars to build an early stage product, now a product can be built for virtually nothing.

The bottleneck now appears to be access to engineering talent.

There are no hardware constraints. The only thing that stands between an entrepreneur’s idea and the realization of that idea is convincing technical talent to devote their time to it.

One could write a whole host of blog posts around this, but I want to talk about a few interesting side effects I have seen.

There are more tiny consulting companies than ever. I am talking about free agents (1 person) and small shops (2-10 people). I have noticed that many of these are managed poorly. I would say a common thread in many of these is that the people that start them either never worked at a large consulting shop or they were a person that hated all the process and machinations at their prior employer, did not value them, and quit to go their own way. These companies are easy to start – you can simply hang around on oDesk or something worst case and build relationships from there – because demand for technical talent is so high.

But an interesting side effect of this is that as the technical talent gets distributed to these tiny companies, the process and project overhead diminishes significantly. That sounds great to engineers, but do not doubt that there is some value in process – particularly as regards to the creation of visibility in the process (which usually is completely unvalued by the people doing the work). The result is that the burden is placed on the client to “manage” the project and make sure that they are getting bang for their buck. I have also seen a sharp transition away from the trend toward fixed pricing of projects and de-risking the project for the customer to a time and materials model and “scrum-ey” project methodologies. This is great for the developer and CAN BE great for the customer, but only if the customer has the infrastructure needed to manage the project well.

So as technology frameworks have simplified the development of technology, the trend in consultancies has been toward smaller and smaller organizations, but increasingly these consultants are providing only technology development, not the infrastructure that many have come to expect that results in complete delivery of the final project. Customers own project management, QA and other typically core engineering functions – the consultant is just manpower.


Yahoo! And Product Leadership!

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Disclosure: I know a few sales people at Yahoo! and one engineer. This post has no biases in it.

Citi analyst Mark Mahaney said about Yahoo! this week:

Its core Display Ad biz seems like a Deteriorating Asset – a possibly perpetual market share loser – while its Asia Investment Portfolio would seem to contain significant Shareholder Value creation opportunities. We applaud YHOO’s significant share repo activity and would encourage the consideration of a dividend.

Mark Mahaney is a fellow Wharton alum (Go Quakers!) and a Hopkins alum (My wife’s school), so you would think he would be super smart, but I hate this analysis. This analysis is what you do when you are losing: Milk the deteriorating asset and give the cash to shareholders before the company throws it away. This is not how to win at all. Turnarounds require cash hoarding. Should Apple have paid a dividend a decade ago?  Should Apple be paying a dividend now? Cash should go to investing in the business if there are places you can invest it that return a reasonable IRR (theoretically not hard given the interest rate at the moment). If Yahoo doesn’t have these, and Scott Thompson can’t figure out what they are, they truly are doomed, but I continue to think of Yahoo! as one of the most valuable media properties on the Internet today. Ironically, a Citi analysis tells the story:


There you go: Yahoo! is just behind Google and Facebook for time on site in the U.S. Admittedly, the inventory is not as valuable as Google’s directed intent inventory, but still, don’t go throwing in the towel. I vote for turning it around! That requires investing in awesome, not milking the business dry. You need to give Scott Thompson a fighting chance here.

Of course, I have to comment on the ridiculous things said by Business Insider as well. Here is the best part of that article:

This exec said: “I would like to know what the Yahoo board was looking for that this guy is the answer. Because I just don’t understand.”

This exec’s primary complaint is that Thompson has spent most of his career on the product development side of the tech industry and he has exactly zero experience in media or advertising.

“He doesn’t really know the company. He thinks there’s opportunity but was not specific about it. I think he doesn’t even really grok what business Yahoo is in.”

In this person’s view, Yahoo didn’t need an executive with product development experience as CEO because “there is very little that is wrong with the Yahoo product.”

“Maybe a year ago they had product problems, but [Yahoo product boss] Blake [Irving] has done a great amount of work and what Yahoo has in the product pipeline is more compelling than another other media company.”

In this person’s view, what Yahoo needed to grow its revenues again was a CEO who can “better position” the company’s various advertising offerings to agencies. After meeting with Thompson, this source said that could be a problem for Yahoo’s new CEO.

“He is not really familiar with the kinds of sensitivities in the agency business. This is a very relationship heavy industry and I don’t know if he’s best equipped for that. “

This guy is hoping they re-hire Terry Semel. I liked this hire because I thought they needed the second coming of Tim Koogle.

Yahoo! is not in the media business, it is in the new media business. Unlike movies and TV, where the format has really changed minimally in the last 50 years, new media is changing drastically every 5 years. The advent of online video like Youtube and Hulu, the emergence of the mobile Internet, and more mean that being a new media conglomerate leader is about having a vision of how technology will evolve more than it is about being a mac-daddy networker. Continuing to evolve the product pipeline over the next decade is at least as important, if not more so, than simply shilling what they have.

The job of Yahoo’s CEO is to change the world, not sell what they got to agencies. They need the Steve Jobs of media, not Greg Coleman. You want a guy with tight agency relationships? This guy is the CEO of Yahoo!, he can hire that guy. Can’t hire vision. Can’t hire game-changing. Plus, as many of the commenters point out – while agencies have lots of options, winning is about the audience. How are Zucks agency relationships? Bet he is not going to have too much trouble taking money out of agencies pockets. Eric Schmidt’s big fat agency rolodex? Non-existent. How is that Google advertising business doing? OK?

If you have the audience, and you have the products, you will overcome.

I wish Yahoo! the best of luck. The world needs more innovation and I would hate to see companies simply go “poof”. I feel the same way about Tim Armstrong at Aol. No one wants Aol to stop existing. The world is more fun when there is more stuff going on. We just want them to suck less.

A Funny Story About Patch and Aol

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

This is a funny story from about 3 years ago at Aol. If you are a lawyer or PR flack at Aol and want me to remove this, just let me know, but I don’t think this really hurts anybody and it shows a little bit about Tim Armstrong’s commitment to the cause, which I don’t think is bad.

I attended a senior leadership offsite at Aol shortly after Tim Armstrong joined the company. The first order of business for Tim was deciding on the three or four things we wanted to focus on as a business to be great. One of the areas that Tim proposed was “Local”. Keep in mind, this was before Patch, etc.. Tim used the exact same verbiage to describe local as he does today: “It’s a big white space with no winners”.

So he had all 100+ senior people vote on “what we should focus on” and local lost. So, in deference to senior leadership, Tim took local off the table. We came out of that meeting with three areas of focus for Aol as a business. But you could tell that Tim thought we could have local and he was deferring to people to show that he could compromise, etc.

I think it only took a few months before he acquired Patch, re-engineered the senior leadership team around Jon Brod and made huge, sweeping investments in local.

Moral of the story: Maybe people should just let the CEO set the direction and then people can move on with their lives. Trying to explain to a CEO what an organization isn’t good at is like talking to a wall sometimes – and with good reason! The CEO is the only person who has the power to make an organization good at something.

You can make fun of Patch, but Tim followed his heart and his gut with where the market opportunity was and other than that one moment when he wanted to show people he was a nice guy in the first few months of his tenure, he has never looked back. I suspect he looks back on that meeting with regret. Don’t ask people’s opinion if you aren’t interested in hearing them! Or maybe, more importantly, don’t tell them their opinion matters if it doesn’t.

Sidebar: I love the Aol logo. The Google/Microsoft/Yahoo! logos bore me to death. When I talk with start-ups about logos, I always tell them that most people can’t do what Aol did. Aol could have a million logos because when you spend that much on consumer branding, people will get the message. With my last start-up, I always felt like I would spend so little on marketing in the life of the company that almost no one would even see the one logo. When you have a huge brand, that ain’t a problem. And I love the playful spirit and ability to do fun things with that.


Millennial Media: Good luck, and thanks for all the fish!

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Disclosure: I know tons of people at Millennial and am good friends with many of them. And I hope they all make crazy bank.

But as they say, “No conflict, no interest!”

Anyway, I haven’t talked to anyone there since the S-1 filing and I am not an employee, so I can complain about the coverage that Millennial is getting from the Business Insider. They have written a couple of articles that I take exception with. Also, Business Insider is a rag and I wish I could stop reading it.

Finally, I have been wanting to do a blog post about Millennial’s IPO and how their Q4 was probably boffo.

The first article I take exception with:

I think the URL says it all: Millennial Media’s IPO is dependent on accounting gimmicks.

This is a bullshit article.

Business Insider is dismayed that that an ad network recognizes dollars that pass through as revenue and then the publisher payments as COGS. Although they note that this is how every ad network does it.

But folks, this IPO is not about small revenue – although I actually agree: The revenue is smaller than I expected.

This IPO is a growth story and a story of needing cash. Historically, networks have a negative cash cycle. Publishers expect to get paid by networks quickly and agencies pay slowly. The result is that you need a lot of cash to front the business.

But let’s talk about the growth story: In 2010 Millennial did 40% of their revenue in Q4. I expect more of the same and a key part of their IPO is putting the puck on the ice with a great announcement in a few weeks – immediately prior to their IPO – about a blowout Q4. How do I know this?

  1. This business is seasonal. Q4 is when it happens. You saw it in 2010.
  2. I had a great Q4. Q4 was great for mobile advertising – I have seen a number of anecdotal industry data points.
  3. Millennial knows what they are doing. These are the same guys that hit it out of the park at and they ran that business with strong operations. I am telling you right now: They know exactly how much money they make every day. When they filed their S-1 in the beginning of January, they already knew what Q4 was and they filed knowing they were going to have a great announcement to make prior to the IPO. They know. Their bankers know. This is orchestrated.

The second article I take exception with:

“This Chart Shows the No. 1 Problem at Millennial Media Right Now”

What is that problem? Let’s quote.

The real culprit is general and administrative expenses — “product, operations, developer support, business development, administration, finance and accounting, legal, information systems and human resources employees,” as Millennial describes them. G&A expenses (in orangey-brown, below) are growing faster than any of the company’s other operating costs:

millennial media

This ought to be CEO Paul Palmieri’s No.1 issue right now: Controlling his bloated admin costs. If Palmieri (pictured at top) can’t get those down as a portion of gross profit then it doesn’t matter how successful his salesforce is.

This is pretty much 10000000% wrong. The hypothesis that a business needs to cut these costs imply that a business is mature. Millennial’s plan is not to control costs to generate profits. It is to grow. GROW. GROW.

This is the Amazon model. If you want to win, you spend. They will grow their way to profitability, but Business Insider talks out of both sides of their mouth: This company is tiny! This company has bloated admin! What no one can deny is that they are growing super fast. They could be 10x bigger in 4 years. Bet they will throw off tons of cash then. When you raise money and when you build a business, people always need to be thinking about optimal velocity. This spend is about maximizing market opportunity, not maximizing quarterly profits. That will come soon enough!

Did they hire people to work in Publisher Services and lock up tons of inventory for Q4? Yep.

Did they scale up operations like crazy? Yep.

Did they hire finance people to get all SOX-compliant? Probably. My understanding is the business is swarming with finance people now.

Is this a bad idea? Nope.

It is the top of the first inning. They have a chance to be a dominant player in the industry. Why would you underinvest?

They are going after it. That is totally the right thing to do. In a market like this, you grow your way to profits. Skimping on the business is a recipe for disaster. Why Business Insider would encourage this demonstrates their naivety toward the opportunity in mobile advertising.



Google: Dedicated to making the world less interesting…

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Another blog post I have been meaning to write for 6 months.

If the FTC asked me for my opinion on the Google/AdMeld acquisition, I would tell them that they are actively reducing competition in a market and that Google should not be allowed to do it.

What proof have I? Look no further than the DoubleClick acquisition. With DoubleClick owned by Google and the free Google Ad Manager product, I got the distinct impression that the life was sucked out of the ad serving market. When you talked with investors, they would tell you that no one valued ad serving – it was a commodity product. When you talked with customers, they would tell you how ad serving was a commodity and they expected to pay virtually nothing for the product.

This, despite the fact that ad serving products basically sucked. (Apologies in all these regards to OpenX, 24/7, AdTech, etc.)

I suspect that we will see much of the same now with SSPs – AdMeld, probably the market leader from a technology perspective, will now be a part of Google. How could someone fund a competitor? And AdMeld is good (I know Ben, etc.), but DCLK was good 5 years ago.

Lot’s of people I talk to feel like the industry is going through a period of maturation and consolidation – I see very few (none?) companies that blow my mind like that first meeting with Invite Media did when they were 8 guys in an apartment in Philadelphia.

And let’s face it, online advertising still sucks. I laughed time and again at the new commercial for Siri with Santa Claus. I made my wife come watch it. I haven’t seen a good online ad since subservient chicken. Online advertising is good at bottom of the funnel, not so good at the stuff that TV excels at. Big opportunities out there remain unrealized.

Of course, Google recognizes that this is where they will make their money so they are land grabbing left and right. I can’t blame them, but it does make our industry less interesting.

The Gift of Daily Deals in the Internet Landscape

Monday, December 19th, 2011

I realized recently that my  perspective on “what is interesting about daily deal companies” is different than most people, so I wanted to articulate it.

Lot’s of people worry that consumers will suffer daily deal burnout and they say, “these daily deal companies whole businesses are built around email marketing lists, when consumers burn out, they are doomed”. That drives headlines like, “BURNOUT IS HAPPENING”. Don’t get me wrong, that is a concern, but this is not what makes the daily deal companies so interesting to me, and it is precisely what I find interesting about them that makes them so valuable in my opinion.

For a decade, Internet start-ups bemoaned the challenge of penetrating the local market – no one had the sales force. Everyone dreamed of partnering with people like the Yellow Pages that had 10,000 feet on the street. Every start-up had a product that, if they could somehow magically motivate a third party salesforce of thousands of people, they could turn into a mint of money. The problem was, building a sales force was super expensive. Only one company really did it: ReachLocal. They raised huge chunks of money at extraordinary risk and successfully made it happen. But they were the exception, not the rule.

With the advent of the daily deal, several companies have had the chance to build out giant sales forces – Groupon and LivingSocial now have sales organizations that dwarf ReachLocal and they are rapidly going international.

Sure, there is a finite limit to the amount of daily deals a vendor will offer. And a finite limit to the amount of daily deals that consumers will buy. But that is not bad. All they need is more product. LivingSocial and Groupon suffer today because they have this huge sales organization, but they really only have one thing for them to sell. They go to all this trouble to build a relationship with a business, they do a daily deal, and they are done. Can’t really sell them anything else for six months or a year. What they need is MORE STUFF TO SELL THEM.

That is easy. Go buy companies. You have the equity to do it. You have cash in the bank too. I predict that Groupon and LivingSocial will start munching up companies left and right in the next few years. They need more product in the pipeline for their salesforce. And being a salesforce, they will always want something new. Now the ideas will meet distribution in a beautiful marriage and tons of early stage companies will be gobbled up to feed the hungry maw of sales. And many entrepreneurs will get to see their dream fulfilled as their idea is used by thousands of small businesses.

Check Crunchbase out: Groupon has already done 10 acquisitions. LivingSocial has done 7. This is just the beginning.


Organizational Credibility and The Need To Tell Lies On The Job

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Being in sales is incredibly difficult. If you are not in sales and you wonder why some sales people make crazy money, the answer is that sales is hard. Most of sales involves experiencing a steady stream of belittling and rejection and your average person simply cannot cope with that. I, for one, am on the record as being a terrible cold caller. Calling 99 people and hearing how dumb I am so that I can get to that 100th person who will hear my story is very tough.

The result is that if a sales person has a good relationship, that is like a gold vein to them. You treasure it! Someone that you can call on again and again and they will buy from you repeatedly is incredibly valuable.

The result is that, at some level, a sales person will treat a new job with suspicion. They simply cannot afford to burn their valuable relationships if it turns out their new employers products suck. Many sales people would rather fail at a new job and keep their confidence and relationships intact than risk blowing up a customer.

The result is that for a company to get a salesperson going, they must instill 100% confidence in their products in a salesperson. Particularly for early stage businesses that are just building their sales organization, this can be very difficult.

Instilling that confidence is not second nature to most people. In fact, I would say that the average person wants to:

  1. understate and overdeliver
  2. be honest about capabilities

These two things can be deadly in early interactions with a sales organization.

Selling a tiny bit ahead of capabilities is critical for the success of most organizations.

Quick sidebar: I was working at a publicly-traded company at one point in my life and I was listening to the earnings call and I heard the CEO describing some capabilities we were developing. I turned to my boss and said, “Oh my god, that was a complete lie the CEO just told.” To which my boss responded: “About time he started competing with everyone else.” My bosses point was excellent: Everyone else in our industry packed their calls with lies. We knew this. Turnabout was fair play in this situation.

Similarly, I was confronted with an interesting challenge recently: We are building a large sales force basically from scratch. We had a product that is coming out in 30 days and during a sales presentation, I presented it as such: “Regarding X, This product will be available in a 4-6 weeks, I will give you plenty of details then.”

I do this for two reasons:

  1. I am a believer in building my organizational credibility through meeting my commitments. If I say, “X will be done by Z”, it will be done. If I lack confidence, I refuse to give dates because I want people to know that when I give a date, they can bet their bottom dollar that it is going to happen.
  2. I like sales to sell what we have. One of the things that drives me nuts about sales people is that when you tell them what is coming, they tend to tell their customers – which can cause a customer to hold off on placing an order – which can cause a salesperson to say that the reason they can’t sell is because “X product isn’t done”. So I always tell people, “Tell the salespeople that the product will never get any better. If they want to work here, they have to figure out how to sell what we make.” Of course we want our product to get better, but a good salesperson should figure out how to sell what we have. To be all Glengarry Glen Ross about it, if you can’t figure out how to sell our crappy product to these good leads, I don’t want to give you the good product to sell. Make it rain!

Regardless, my boss came over to me afterwards all fired up: “You need to go back to the sales force and re-characterize our capabilities in this area as being available today.” My response was, “But it isn’t!”. To which he replied, “That is not germaine to this conversation!”

Great line.

Moral of the story, if we waited 6 weeks to start selling a capability we will have in 30 days, we won’t see a deal for the next 90 days. And it is Q4! Now we have the capability and our team is actively closing business around it. Win/win.

While many product people, and many people in general, take the same approach I typically try do – organizational credibility development through constant under-promising and consistent over-delivering – it is critical to success in life and in business that you recognize moments where this philosophy serves you poorly and a little over-promising and then going out and making it happen is actually what it takes.

Furthermore, it is important to recognize that sometimes your organizational credibility isn’t what is important. If the business needs you to take a body blow – hey buddy, that is why you get paid the big bucks.

One more story: In my first company, I remember closing our first six-figure deal. Prior to that deal, our biggest job had been around $70k and this job was for $250k. My partner said to me when they offered us the business, “We might not be able to do this!” My response was, “If we can’t do this, we will never have the kind of company we are trying to build.” We took the job, we made it happen, we built a company I was proud of and led it to a great exit.

It is easy to always under-promise. Easy. Just push back whenever people push on you to over-commit. It can be a habit. But don’t think that just because you are always making your commitments and managing expectations that you are doing the right thing. What is hard is recognizing moments when you need to demand more of yourself and your team to catalyze change.

Companies Are Sold, Not Bought

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

“Companies are bought, not sold”

This is a cliche as old as M&A, and there is a lot of truth to it. When I started my last company, from time to time we would get interest in acquiring the business from third parties. My wife would start to get excited if I mentioned this stuff and I always tempered her with a couple of comments. These are my M&A cliches and I want to share them with you now for the permanent record:

  • Selling a company is a “large complex sale”. Just like real sales. That means you probably need 100 meetings to get a buyer. So I always tried to imagine that you need 100 meetings with different people to sell the company. That means that this meeting, no matter how optimistic the potential acquirer might sound, is unlikely to result in a sale and you should remain even-keeled about these things. The thing you should celebrate – and this is what my wife and I always did – is “We are one meeting closer to 100 meetings!”
  • No matter how good a fit you think you are for the business, you have virtually no input into the process. This is where I always thought half of the cliche came from – the key things that have to happen to make this transaction take place are events inside the buyer where you have little or no control. The CFO wants to focus on integration of the last transaction, your champion is job-hunting and suddenly quits, there is a spat about who would manage the acquisition and someone ends up going scorched earth (“If I can’t have it, then no one can!”, the CEO resolves to focus on maximizing profits to hit a number this quarter, the buyers chief competitor announces a new product and they send M&A off to focus on other things as a result, or technology says they could recreate all of your core technology in a week. This kind of thing happens every day. Every day. There are third party forces at work, which you are unaware of, attempting to derail your acquisition. If the buyer gets distracted, the opportunity goes away.

But I am here to tell you that this is the truth, nothing but the truth, but a partial truth.

There are things you can do to make the sale of a company more likely.

First, go kill it. If you build a great business, people want that. It needs to be a blend of great proprietary technology and a large and growing customer base/revenue stream. Duh. I assume you are reading this because you don’t have all of that. Sales is easy when you have the perfect product.

Second, there are things I don’t know about. I have sold two companies now, and I know that there were things I did to make the sale more likely, but there are lots of people with bigger exits, more exits, and more experience here. Good lawyers probably have ten things that they would put on this list.

Third, momentum is your friend. People talk about deal heat all the time. If the deal is moving, make sure you move it along. The faster you move, the less time a naysayer has to insert obstacles.

Fourth, ABC, baby! Always be closing. When Greg Yardley founded Flurry and I was still at Aol, every time we had lunch, the running joke was that he would start the lunch by saying, “Just so you know, I have a fiduciary responsibility to let you know that we are for sale.” That is a little, ok maybe a lot, tongue in cheek, but you get the idea. Greg was doing two things right: Networking with potential acquirers and looking for opportunities.

Because here is the other half of that cliche: You never know when a company will suddenly decide they need to buy something in a space. When that happens, you want to make sure you that you broke bread with a player in the organization recently and told them your story. Otherwise you might not get the call.

Here is the bottom line: In every transaction I have been involved in, the buyer knew someone on our team, had a long term relationship (greater than one year) with that person, and was familiar with our business as a result. When they felt like buying, they called us.

And that is how we sold.

Let’s get an awesome comment thread started. Give me your reaction now!

When Bonus Plans Go Wrong

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

So last week we talked a lot about structuring bonus plans. Because it is bonus plan season, I have heard some horror stories that I wanted to talk about.

So when a CEO at a big company is setting up his budget for the coming year, one of the top of mind things is “making my bonus”, “making my bonus”, “making my bonus”. Because really, what else is there? You want to set up the plan for success. Typically this means signing up for the smallest number possible. Signing up for a huge revenue and profit target makes getting your bonus hard. It would be way better to sign up for a smaller number, then hit the huge number and take advantage of the monster accelerator to make crazy bank.

And this is true for every part of the organization! You want to retain your best talent. That means paying out big bonuses. The problem is, if you set your goals low, you have to set expenses low. Frequently that means layoffs. You can rarely justify low revenue goals and high expenses. Even in a start-up, your revenue goals still need to increase significantly on a percentile basis year over year though expenses may exceed revenue.

Unfortunately, sometimes this works too well. When public companies lay off large numbers of employees, then pay out large bonuses 12 months later, it is disconcerting. Or when they are “getting set” for next year and do a big layoff and then pay out large bonuses simultaneously, that can be even more disconcerting.

The other situation where this is disturbing is when a company makes goal based on one-time transactions not pre-conceived by the original plan – like selling assets to generate net income.

Not to name names, but a public company that we are all familiar with just paid out on significant over achievement of plan when stockholders and third parties would probably call it anything but the plan they had in mind.