What happened to all the big names?

I'm not sure whether this should be here or in 'Bar Sport' - but it is a serious point......

( edit - I put it in 'General Electronics' , but the moderator - perhaps wisely -moved it here)

Not that many years ago many makers of well-respected instruments and semiconductor devices seem to have had some sort of collective attack of madness.

Why?

For example HP became Agilent, then split again into Avago and Keysight.

Motorola -> On-semi

Marconi -> IFR

Siemens -> Infineon.

Philips -> NXP.

etc.

I'm not a marketing expert, but it seems to be daft to throw away a world respected name for something completely unknown....

Coca-cola or KFC or Ford or........... etc wouldn't dream of it .

or VW ( ah - hmmm - perhaps they're thinking about it ).

At least in the UK when the post office was rebranded as 'Consignia' (?!) there was such an outcry that they dropped the idea.

Try again - why ? - pass me a marketing guru .

Allan

I cannot address all of the changes but I can outline what happened with HP.

Once Bill and Dave passed, the road at HP became a bit bumpy. Personal computers and printing paid the bills but the vertical integration that previously supported the business so well in the past, became a large part of operation overhead. Building PC’s and putting ink and toner in cartridges didn’t need all those different divisions that had accumulated in the process of building a test and measurement empire.

Enter a new CEO, fresh blood to straighten things out. That CEO was one Carley Fiorina of AT&T and Lucent fame. She had a nack for being in right place at the right time and knew how manipulate stock values with the best of them. She identified the cash cow that was PC’s and went all out on that theme. She had the bean counters sell everything that wasn’t nailed down, and some that was, to generate the cash to buy Compaq, who’s assets included Digital Equment Corp, with the thought being that they’d own the market in PC’s and Unix workstations forever.

That went over like the proverbial turd in the punch bowl. She didn’t understand the market, the Unix business was already dead, just no ne wanted to admit it. In the insuing blood bath of red ink, HP laid off over 30,000 workers, a first in their corporate history.

My timing on things here on is probably wrong but I’m working from memory and cannot find any quick source to verify, I welcome corrections to the time-line if it matters to anyone.

The HP board finally got over their infighting long enough to fire her in 2005, after many money losing years. Mark Hurd was promoted from within HP to put thinks back on track. It was now even more evident that most of HP’s revenue came from printing. It was decided that the test and instrument devisions, along with the support verticals, were not big money makers, compared to ink and toner, so it was decided they would be spun off as separate entities. Since the imaging market was by far the lions share of the revenue, it was decided that that that group would keep the Hewlett-Packard name and since Bill and Dave were gone, it would shortened to just “HP”.

Mark Hurd returned HP to profitability but was ousted from the board due to personal conduct issues, I forget the sordid details but it was ugly.

The T&M group started out as Agilent. As time progressed, the vertical businesses that appeared to make money on their own where spun off, giving us Avago for the optical semiconductors along with a few other bits and pieces, and renaming the test equipment group Keysight. I do believe the Avago product line (and manufacturing for those lines) has been sold again, I’m unsure where that currently stands although I know my company still sources optical fiber and transceivers that were once known as HP products.

Overall, Hewlett-Packard is good lesson in how industry titans crash and burn when there is no succession plan and too many family members of the founders sit on the board of directors with those members not possessing the businesses accumem of their predecessors.

It seems to me that some newly imported CEOs either don't know the technology or have no interest in it so they focus on something they do know - changing the corporate structure. And, of course, they will be enthusiastically encouraged by all the hangers-on that make huge profits from the change - accountants, business consultants, lawyers, public relations firms and marketing gurus.

In a different field this seems to me to be what happened in the "decision" to change British Waterways into the Canal and River Trust. I can't see any added value for people who use the UK waterways. Shortly after the change was completed the CEO left.

...R

It's been happening for years, although there does seem to have been a lot more recently.

In some cases, it goes full circle. Many years ago, I used to work for Plessey semiconductors. We were bought and sold several times (GEC, Mitel, Zarlink, X-Fab), but several years ago, the Plessey name was back on the building. I left when it was still Mitel, so I'm not fully up to date with what happened after that.

Ian.

Didn't Plessey make RF 'building block' IC's? Saw the datasheets, but never used them...

Allan

It's not that difficult. All these companies are stock exchange listed. That's done to get a larger wallet. But the ones that fill these wallets, want something in return; higher profits. Once larger institutional investors enter, they start demanding things. Those investors don't care for the history brands have built in the past, unless they can sell that history for a quick buck. So that is exactly what happens.

Philips (once our national pride), has sold out every division they have built up over about 100 years. The big sell out started in the '90ies, white goods was sold to whirlpool. About 10 years ago they split the chip division and sold it to sharks like KKR. Philips now has 2 divisions left: One that's into medical equipment (including some body care end user products) , and a lighting division (now for sale).

By the way, ON semi is only part of what once was Motorola. The digital part became Freescale. Freescale was swallowed by NXP about two years ago. NXP was in turn swallowed by Qualcomm last year.

I worked for a Philips company - PYE, then Philips TVT in Cambridge England - in the late 70’s / early 80’s .

Philips shut them down.

They were OK to work for. Then.

Allan

It seems like the Motorola brand name now only appears on phones. The rest of the things that we used to associate with that brand name got split off. I'm sure that decades from now kids will be debating what the Blues brothers meant when they said 'You can't outrun the Motorola!'

Yaesu seemed to have changed to "Vertex Standard" for a decade or more but the same products have now switched back to saying "Yaesu" on the top.

A company that makes both consumer products (like cell phones or printers) AND electronic components (chips and LEDs) comes under investor scrutiny: "How come your overall profit margin is lower than this OTHER company that makes only consumer goods?" And you can try to explain that you have this chip division that has really expensive capital equipment and is doing near-research-level things that aren't expected to be as profitable as printer ink, but in the end it might be easier to say "we give up. Now, we have one company that does consumer electronics, and one company that does chips and test equipment. No - let's spit that last one in two as well. Chip company. Consumer company. test equipment company. Got it?"

MAS3: By the way, ON semi is only part of what once was Motorola. The digital part became Freescale. Freescale was swallowed by NXP about two years ago. NXP was in turn swallowed by Qualcomm last year.

It is like an aquarium, or biology ecosystem thing. One thing gobbles up another. Food chain.

This kind of thing is normal. All part of nature. Just like civilisations come and go.

A long time ago, a company called Goldstar combined with a chemical company named Lucky. Turned into 'LG' --- aka lucky goldstar.

MorganS: It seems like the Motorola brand name now only appears on phones.

...and they're made by Lenovo, who also bought the IBM ThinkPad brand . . . and so it goes round.

MAS3: All these companies are stock exchange listed. But the ones that fill these wallets, want something in return; higher profits.

Not profit. Earnings growth. That's what drives a stock price in the current era. If you doubt that look at Uber profit compared to stock price. They are a beautiful insane example.

Driving earnings growth is why companies like HP purchase companies like Compaq. The executives believe there is "synergy" in the combination that will lead to a significant short term positive change in earnings. Followed by a spike in the stock price. Followed by said executives deploying their Golden Parachutes. At which point the imploding disaster is the next CEO's problem.

There are also some cases of old fashioned infighting leading to an implosion (Motorola). In their case the idiocy left them vulnerable to a Google takeover who was more than happy to jump into the mobile phone business (the one unit that had big growth potential) then dump the rest of Motorola.

ThinkPad is classic IBM strategy. When a business unit's growth slows they sell the unit then use the proceeds to develop the next generation of technology. To my annoyance they did exactly that with their harddrive unit. However, the story had a happy(ish) ending. Hitachi purchased the unit continuing the tradition of making very nice drives. However, the final ending is not so happy. Rumor has it Western Digital and Hitachi have started infighting. We all know how that ends (Seagate acquisition followed by closing the doors at both Hitachi and Western Digital; Seagate furthering their master plan of world domination through the sale of really crappy harddrives.)

allanhurst: I'm not a marketing expert, but it seems to be daft to throw away a world respected name for something completely unknown....

They change the name when they start to struggle and a grossly overpriced marketing consultant convinces the executives that rebranding will turn the company around. (e.g "Philips" = "light bulb" {old, boring}; NXP = "next experience" {new; fabulous})

Coca-cola or KFC or Ford or........... etc wouldn't dream of it .

Not struggling.

[quote author=Coding Badly link=msg=3279486 date=1496048387] They change the name when they start to struggle and a grossly overpriced marketing consultant convinces the executives that rebranding will turn the company around. (e.g "Philips" = "light bulb" {old, boring}; NXP = "next experience" {new; fabulous}) [/quote] To see a great example of this nonsense very close to home just go to https://www.arduino.cc/ - all pretty pictures and hardly any useful information. And they are far from the worst offender in the balance between pretty pictures and useful info.

Is the human race really becoming more stupid and more easily attracted by pretty pictures and marketing nonsense?

...R

allanhurst: Didn't Plessey make RF 'building block' IC's? Saw the datasheets, but never used them...

Allan

It was mainly ASIC's where I was in Plymouth, but we did have some sort of connection with Marconi, so RF was a possibility. There were manufacturing sites at Caswell and Oldham, but I'm not sure what they made.

Ian.

Robin2: Is the human race really becoming more stupid

I believe that to be the case in the UK. Can't comment for the rest of the world.

Ian.

The pollution that gets ignored so much that denial would require more awareness is dumbing the general population down, the more corn syrup you can get the mercury you can get and that's just one part of it.

Stupid is also what governments harvest by cutting public education.