Trying to make sense of PG&E’s Marketing Campaigns

We are getting close to baseball season and since I try to catch the majority of games that means I get to watch a ton more local advertising!

yay ads!

Last season I was lucky enough to return to Norcal and got to watch the Giants on CSN-Bay Area for the majority of televised games. While watching the the season I saw a ton of PG&E ads; ranging from some lady telling I’m the reason my bill keeps going up and a PG&E rep will come out to help me buy more new enery effiencient appliances to 3 latina high school girls who turned off lights to save the school money. Meaning, they are spending money by the boatload to make a wide range of ads in hopes of propagating the message that PG&E cares about its customers (and employeesRich, and Jannis).

Coincidence that they did this ad push while they were in the final stages of the 2010 San Bruno pipe explosion?

So.. Why is PG&E spending so much(assumed) on marketing focused on employees and community? (we can’t be about the exact budget without tricking someone for the information. But we can get a good sense that its somewhere under the earnings from selling stocks since all ads contain This communication paid for by PG&E shareholders., but I’m no expert so maybe its all free..)

The announcement of that they will be cutting ~450 IT jobs was the big fuck you that explains it all. It may not seem too strange for a large, publically traded company to move jobs overseas to save money but let’s take a look at exactly what PG&E is doing here to move the jobs over.

They (PGE) has hired a consulting firm based out of India called Tata Consultancy Services to manage the replacement of these workers. In order to replace these IT folks Tata is using H1B visas to bring folks over to the states to be trained on how to perform the tasks they will be doing within months. That should be alarming to you

If you don’t know too much about H1B Visas its ok not to be shocked. The idea is that we need a way to keep / allow skilled workers to enter the country and work legally to help push forward innovation where the current US workforce is inadequate. The issue with using these visas is that they are of limited supply and are given out based on lottery. With companies like Tata hoarding H1Bs to use for IT training and job relocation we are effectively removing work from the job pool while using a system designed to strengthen the job marketplace.

PG&E knows what they are doing and calculated that they could do this and minimize the damage by running a PR campaign in the lead up to this event. Expect the $300 million a year in savings to be poured into more marketing campaigns to continue the monopoly that they have going.

Bad actors like PG&E and Tata need to be dealt with before they ruin the entire system for deserving individuals who rely on the program

Development Turntable

And the turntable keeps on turnin’ and turnin’
Nothing can fuck with the way it goes around
– Slug

Human nature tells us that there is a natural desire to make sense of the uncertain and create some semblance of control in our lives. This fundamental desire to create order where chaos thrives is the entire struggle of every growing company and the realization that always occurs when a company begins to grow past its infancy/adolescence. You know a company is in this phase when the Operations side wants to throw X engineers at the problem in hopes that it will increase effiency and get us to that cash cow ASAP (a different can of worms for another time)

When I was introduced to SCRUM in the real world I was blown away with the organization that seemed to be instilled throughout a company of ~20 engineers (the largets team I had worked with at the time) and >100 in all departments. Communication seemed to be streamlined and the pace of development seemed like it was pushing limits and allowing the team to move at the maximum velocity.. As a disclaimer I still am a believer in some system like SCRUM (loose-SCRUM) to keep visibility in a minimal way but I’d like to rethink the “optimal development cycle”

Whenever I think about business I am a bit cynical after seeing a company be sold with very little transparency to the <10 employees in the ranks. Because of past experiences with companies and individuals who have reneged on contracts and payments I like to assume the worst case when thinking in the hypothetical.

Let’s imagine a company that has just gone through a big round of funding and is now ready to make the push from 150 employees to 300+ w/ multiple offices around the United States to house all the talent that they have. This company is going places and they are in control of their destiny. Development team is churning out features left and right and the folks in Operations and Sales are able to keep customers happy and sign new customers with ease. In our ficticious company we have happy employees in every aspect of the business.

Now what happens when a Sales manager gets word that the company can sign the biggest contract ever by orders of magnatiude that make

To be continued..