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We will soon be publishing The SAIC Solution, 2nd Edition and would love for current and former SAIC/Leidos employees to be part of the book cover photo project. Please send an email to jdickerson@fed.org with a self-portrait of yourself while working at SAIC/Leidos or a recent headshot (at least 1 MB). If you only have a non-portrait photograph, we would still like to use it. Also, please send us the years you worked at the company, your department(s), and title(s).

If you know anyone who would like to be incorporated in the cover, please share this link with them.

The final deadline is Friday, February 28, 2014.

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I am looking forward to Mike Daniels’ upcoming talk about the commercialization of the Internet, which is scheduled to take place on Tuesday evening, February 25, 2014 at the UCSD Rady School here in La Jolla. Mike will also be signing copies of our book Names, Numbers, and Network Solutions at the event.

Although RSVPs were due on February 20th, if you’re interested in attending, I suggest that you contact the Rady School event planners to see if they can find you a seat. I hope to see you there.

* * *

I was interested to learn about Facebook’s recent purchase of WhatsApp, a company with just 50 employees, for $19 billion. According to the articles I have read about the acquisition, Facebook is not buying the company’s technology, which other companies also offer, but instead it is buying the company’s half-billion-or-so person strong user base, many of whom reside outside the United States.

Although the $19 billion price for WhatsApp has heads spinning in the Silicon Valley, I am reminded that in 2000 we sold Network Solutions to VeriSign for $19.3 billion, or about $26 billion in 2014 inflation-adjusted dollars. As some observers will recall, that deal was sealed just a few days before the Nasdaq reached its all-time intraday high of 5132.52, a number that hasn’t been seen again as the air quickly leaked out of the dot-com bubble and the index hit a low of 1108.49 in October 2002.

Are we in a new Internet technology bubble? The extraordinarily high valuations of companies such as WhatsApp seem to indicate that history may be in the process of repeating itself. We’ll know for sure within the next year.

— Bob

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Last Friday evening my daughter Mary Ann Beyster and Names, Numbers, and Network Solutions editor Peter Economy attended the preview reception for the 48th Local Author Exhibit at the new San Diego Main Library. From what I understand, the new building is quite magnificent, and the event was very well attended by local authors.

The NSI book will be on display at the library for the entire month of February. I have included some photos from the event.

* * *

I would like to thank everyone who has submitted suggestions for a new subtitle for The SAIC Solution, second edition. We have received some good ones. We have also received a number of photos from blog readers to include in the SAIC employee photo mosaic on the front cover of the book.

If you haven’t yet sent in a photo, it’s not too late. Please send a message to Jamie Dickerson at the FED at jdickerson@fed.org and include a photo of yourself while working at SAIC/Leidos (at least 1 MB), the years you worked at the company, and your department.

* * *

I had a very enjoyable lunch a couple of weeks ago with Bill Hagan. We talked about a variety of interesting topics.

Bill later sent me a photo of the old SAI Lunchtime Running Crew. That brought back many pleasant memories. I have included a copy of the photo below.

— Bob

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I recently read in the Los Angeles Times that Tom Jones, former CEO of Northrop, died a couple of weeks ago. Jones was probably the last of the maverick aerospace top executives from the ’60s, and he turned Northrop into a real global power to be reckoned with.

While I didn’t personally know Tom Jones, I knew Don Hicks very well. Don served under Tom as Northrop’s senior vice president, marketing and technology, and later served as Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, and on SAIC’s board.

According to Hicks, Tom Jones “…was a brilliant thinker. He took Northrop from nothing and made it into a viable corporation. Then through a lot of effort, it moved to the top tier of the industry.” I wish Tom’s family well.

* * *

Don’t forget that we are looking for ideas for a new subtitle for the second edition of The SAIC Solution. If you’ve got an idea, please let me know. I think we have received 6 or 7 ideas now.

— Bob

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I recently read an interesting article from Forbes.com that discusses employee ownership. I was very pleased to see that there is still a national conversation about the benefits of employee ownership.

The article is titled “Raising Minimum Wage? How About Raising Employee Ownership?” and it references Rutgers professor Joseph Blasi’s new book, The Citizen’s Share. The main point of the article is that rather than engaging in protracted fights over whether or not to approve an increase in the minimum wage, our elected politicians should instead consider a different solution for helping employees: “encourage companies to provide greater ownership opportunities or revenue sharing to all their workers.”

As you are likely aware, this was one of the policies that enabled SAIC to succeed so decisively against the competition while providing every employee with valuable company equity. I wholeheartedly agree with the author of this article, and I hope that more companies will give broad-based employee ownership a try.

As he pointed out, companies don’t need to wait for legislators to see the light — they can adopt employee ownership practices now. I firmly believe that if they do, the positive effects will be significant and long lasting.

— Bob

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As you may be aware, we are currently working on the 2nd edition of my book about the origins, growth, and practices of SAIC, titled The SAIC Solution: How We Built an $8 Billion Employee-Owned Technology Company. The manuscript is currently being edited by our publisher, and we hope to have the book available for purchase in April or May.

SAIC itself has gone through great change over the past several years, and I believe many of these changes were not for the better. For example, the IPO resulted in significant loss of shareholder value, while the dismantling of the employee-ownership culture has removed one of the company’s most important tools for recruiting, retaining, and engaging talented people. And the recent split up of the company into two new businesses has greatly lessened SAIC’s economies of scale. I address these issues and more in the 2nd edition of the book.

To reflect these changes in SAIC, I am considering the possibility of changing the subtitle of The SAIC Solution. Instead of “How We Built an $8 Billion Employee-Owned Technology Company,” I would like something that better reflects the entire history of the company. That is where you come in. I am reaching out to the readers of this blog to suggest a new subtitle for The SAIC Solution. The winner will get to join me for a cruise on San Diego Bay on my boat Solutions, with lunch at Sally’s at the Manchester Hyatt. You will, of course, need to arrange your own travel to San Diego to redeem this award.

While we’re at it, I would also like to see if anyone has ideas for a tagline for the book — a short, dynamic statement that sums up the idea of the book in just a handful of words. If we use your idea, then you will also get to join me on my boat and for lunch at Sally’s.

Please submit your ideas to inquire@fed.org no later than Friday, January 31 to be considered.

I hope everyone has a happy and successful 2014.

— Bob

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Recent Comments

  • Damian: I doubt it’s profits. SAIC/Leidos contracts have increased steadily for the past 3 years.
  • Dr. Beyster: Jason: Congratulations on your new job with Leidos. There are many good people there, and I am sure you...
  • Dr. Beyster: Al: Thanks for your suggestion. — Bob
  • Dr. Beyster: Thomas: Thank you for the photo of the SAIC Employee Forum, or the TEC as we used to call it. I agree...
  • Jason Strebe: Bob, I am looking forward to the new content. I read the first edition prior to accepting my new job at...