Yesterday, giant behemoth test equipment maker JDSU has acquired one of the Telecoms Test business units from my beloved Agilent Technologies. OK, for the Milpitas, CA/Germantown, MD/Eningen, Germany - based company, it's about being able to fulfill market requirements on promising technologies such as LTE/4G.
Fact is, JDSU hired a lot of former Agilent employes and executives after 2003, when the A board decided to abandon the highly competitive, low margins, Telecoms Field Testing arena for the Life Sciences and all that stuff kind of more profitable business.
For instance, three of my former colleagues at the now deceased Optical Network Test Division in Boeblingen, Germany, are working a few kilometers south, at the JDSU's european HQ in Eningen. Funny, their big boss is our former Vice-President. Nothing surprising here, that's just life as it goes in a small world such as the Test & Measurement one.
Of course, this acquisition is a good news for some insiders, who will make a nice jump in their careers, and a bad one for lots of people on both sides, who will lose their jobs because of redundancy. Plus, it gives JDSU a strong lead against its rivals Anritsu and EXFO.
However, I'm still convinced that JDSU is doomed from the start : this company is made of the agglomeration of multiple firms, without unity nor unification. JDSU is not one. The board keeps acquiring a small fish here, a big one there, yet without a clear, unique, vision (but the one of making money on the short run).
On the contrary, Agilent is re-building itself from the start, focusing on its core, historical business : Lab & Production test & measurement. Agilent was never made to address the Field Testing market, despite it has released the most advanced gears in some segments, e.g. fiber optic test. Just an example, for those of you who are familiar with fiber : the Modular Network Tester that we've introduced back in March 2002 is still unmatched eight years later. JDSU recently released a pale copy of the MNT, with a product which looks like a Dell compared to a Mac, see what I mean - I won't write the JDSU thing is a pure crap, although I think it is ;-)
Agilent's products portfolio is more and more "people-oriented", whilst JDSU and the others are still focusing onto hardcore technologies. I know a friend of mine, still with Agilent Boeblingen, who's developing some new solutions based on... the iPhone. This is an indication that, going leaner, Agilent also goes faster.
Less is more, right ?
Disclosure : A former employee, I'm also an Agilent shareholder. For a few bucks only, provided I couldn't keep my stock options when I've been laid off. Which is not that much of a problem, as the stock never ever reached the break even point since I left !