Bob closed his browser window and fired up his email client. He had loads of work to do. Sam had said that, officially, the Flitzerboing-Ultra project was still active until they heard otherwise. Bob opened up an email from Peter Prince, a designer at MegaCorp. He did much the same job as Bob, and they had worked together, off and on, for the past four years. More recently, Peter and Bob had gone back and forth a lot, working out the specifications of the Flitzerboing-Ultra software.
Peter had sent the email late the previous evening, answering some—but not all—of Bob's questions. He promised to send the remaining answers later in the week. That was fine with Bob, because the important questions had been answered and he could get on with his own work.
Bob reread the email and realized that when he wrote it, Peter had no idea that the project was going to be cancelled. Had Peter and his workmates just been given a bunch of envelopes, too? Bob knew that Peter would be very upset by the news, because he was looking forward to buying the Flitzerboing-Ultra for his granny as a gift for her on her ninety-ninth birthday. Perhaps, Bob thought, the economy might pick up sooner rather than later, and she might get it for her hundreth birthday.
Why are MegaCorp Canceling the Project?
Sam walked by. Bob called her over.
"Sam, Explain to me again why MegaCorp can't afford to pay us to build the FBU."
Being of a technical disposition, Bob and his team referred to the Flitzerboing-Ultra by the initials FBU. Sam did too, but only when she was talking with her team. She always used the full name when talking with MegaCorp people—they took things like that very seriously. She had heard a rumor that MegaCorp had paid an upmarket marketing agency over $150,000 to come up with the name Flitzerboing-Ultra. Considering that the Flitzerboing series had been around for a dozen years, one hundred and fifty grand seemed a lot just for adding the word Ultra.
"It's all about money: revenue and cost," she replied. "Businesses and consumers are worried about money, so they're tightening their belts, spending less. FBU isn't the sort of product people buy when they're tightening their belts. MegaCorp believe that sales—revenue—across the entire Flitzerboing product range will drop by between 25 and 50 percent. That's a big hit."
Bob thought about what Sam said. What applied to MegaCorp also applied to KillerWattSoftware. FBU represented, what, a quarter of KillerWattSoftware's revenue for the forthcoming year? If many more projects were cancelled, the company could fold.
"Yikes," he said.
"Yikes indeed," agreed Sam.
"Well, couldn't we charge them a little less for our work? KillerWattSoftware may not make as much money from the deal, but at least we'd save the project, earn some money, and perhaps save a few jobs."
"Our account manager tried to negotiate with MegaCorp. Apparently, we offered them a 20 percent reduction, but the MegaCorp guys just laughed. They said that represented only a tiny drop in their ocean of troubles."
Bob raised an eyebrow. Twenty percent sounded like a good discount to him, but what did he know about such things? He reminded himself that he was a programmer not a businessman.