Thread regarding SAS Institute layoffs

How would you make SAS better?

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Post ID: @OP+1fUCncfN

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Simple: accelerate integration with Python. SAS partners with Microsoft/Azure, but hesitates to fully work with Python. Doesn’t make sense. While this approach is beginning to thaw, SAS will be forced to address this as the IPO nears.

Post ID: @2Gocs+1fUCncfN

All top execs have received retention bonuses. Yes it’s true. But the other 95% of workers get nothing for loyalty

Post ID: @2igap+1fUCncfN

"new products" must also not be built to mainly leverage a rapidly dwindling installed base of rapidly aging-out users. and not build a proprietary version of a rapidly adopted open source platform. to mix some analogies, this would be like building apps only on top of blackberry or myspace or friendster, then introducing a new flavor of proprietary unix when linux is the standard. yet that is the stupidity that gets approved. anyone smart or savvy enough to point this out or do something not following that death wish formula isn't really recognized / backed.

Post ID: @1Gsnu+1fUCncfN

How would I make it better? I’d put it out of its misery. Sell it while it’s still worth anything. Stop all this silly talk about IPO.

SAS is obviously in its death throes. Horrible to see after working here for so long. Decades of poor decisions have ruined it.

Post ID: @Eeml+1fUCncfN


A minimal requirement to make SAS "better" is to initiate new revenue streams. And I firmly believe there are enough "A" and "B" engineers remaining to build those revenue streams.

But identifying new revenue streams is a function of management, not engineering. Some manager has to have enough vision to see a new market, and enough authority to allocate resources. It's a hard problem, of course -- your namesake had seven years to solve it, and he failed.

Raising employee compensation -- either through equity or higher salaries -- is certainly an urgently needed reform. On GlassDoor Reviews, low pay is a frequent complaint. But I don't believe SAS will increase expenses, unless revenue increases.

I have benefited from your comments, and others, on this site. It's clear that many of us at SAS got hurt by abusive management. Reading and writing here, amonst others who had similar experiences, has been therapeutic.

But the goal of therapy, after we've learned all we can from the bad experience, is to move on with our lives.

It's hard not to look back -- especially when we're worried about friends we left behind. But I'm afraid the course of SAS is more or less set. We can't stop what will happen. All we can do is learn from our experience, and move on.

Post ID: @Bbhf+1fUCncfN

@OldSASer, I was in R&S for a long time and have also worked with some extremely talented, some would say “world–class” engineers outside of SAS. I no longer think R&D/engineering has the brain trust left to transform the fundamental innovation engine at SAS. Speaking in terms of pure innovation g… The A-list has largely been depleted down to a relative few close enough to retirement, or already financially independent enough not to care about pushing hard. The B-list contains a lot of people who have developed modern skills trying to transform an archaic Base architecture/v9 stack into something more cloud and modern deployment framework friendly. The B-list are solid citizens who could move to other companies if they chose to spend evenings/weekends for 3 to 6 months necessary to study for the tech interviews. Forget about the C-list. Most of them left during the buyouts or are still “doing the minimum to not get fired”. Hopefully this is the minority.

Without significant equity packages SAS will simply not be able to attract/retain the kind of world class talent to fuel innovation engine necessary to completely transform the company. We’re talking hiring A-olist engineers directly out of top graduate school programs and paying them a minimum $150K base + bonus and equity that totals to $200K to $225K. Nearly double that or more at the Principal level. This is what the top established tech companies pay.

The equity component is what is missing at SAS It is why they can’t capture the best people nor motivate a significant part of their population too high levels of excellence (I.e. because optimizing total compensation depends on making great decisions and executing on them). Of course this also assumes that executive management structure that can capitalize on current in new markets by making great decisions. Lack of equity is also a big reason why people stay for decades. That is, if you don’t build significant wealth from your equity early in your career and you have stale technical/managerial skills, then what else are you going to do? This reinforces one of SAS’ biggest problems which is lack of employee turnover.

Post ID: @fatb+1fUCncfN


We mostly agree. Perhaps I should have said “top X%” as I don’t know the exact number. Whatever it is, the best of the NC State folks were in my experience extremely talented and easy to work with. I did not find them arrogant at all.

It was always the mediocre talents — from NC State and other schools — who were arrogant. They were insecure, defensive about their skills — with good reason 🙂! Some of them, including your namesake, did act like gods, and many of those people are still in high positions.

I wouldn’t bet, one way or the other, on an IPO occurring. But if it does, it could bring wholesale management change. That might “fix the problems” — in a more radical way than most folks want.

Post ID: @5byb+1fUCncfN

Alteryx is struggling - looking at their stock. Wouldn’t suggest SAS buy them.

Kudos to those who mentioned NC State - a resounding yes. Subpar university with subpar talent. Also, So many hires leads to group think.

SAS needs a real CEO and leadership team that is external. Why do they continue to promote from within the inner circle?! SMH.

Post ID: @4gwu+1fUCncfN


Perhaps we'll have to agree to disagree on several points. Folks primarily from NC State, not that big a problem. Hiring the "top 10%"? Where did that value come from?

We can agree that SAS needs new revenue streams. Getting those streams now, however, is not so easy. We can agree that maybe a third of the managers are decent, and that they have to make far too many compromises in order to be effective. We can also agree that if they don't hire people who can grow revenue, there's no fixing that.

Where we will disagree - the role of tech arrogance and how that contributed to SAS's ultimate decline. In my opinion, Engineering was elevated to "God" status, and "Gods" do not change.

How do you negotiate practical product needs and changes with "Gods"? How do you get "Gods" to engage with the market and transform their products (images of themselves) in response to market shifts? You don't. Mere mortals cannot negotiate with them successfully, as these "Gods" believe they are "all knowing" and "all powerful"; You will be overruled and fail at every attempt. JG is but one of these "Gods". The top ranks are the "micro-Gods" who ascended "Mt. Olympus" and sit at JG's feet. The next tiers down are the Apparatchiks and NomenKlatura who worshipped at the altars of these "micro-Gods".

Most likely, it's too late to save it, not that it should be. What is saved will be like any other struggling tech company. Just like the God's in Wagner's Ring Cycle, SAS is having it's Gotterdamerung moment - the rule of the SAS "God's" is over. The age of open source tools applied by common man is upon us.

Post ID: @3hpk+1fUCncfN

The problem is not that SAS hired State graduates. NC State is an excellent school. The top 10% of their graduates would be valued at any software company.

But SAS grew so fast, and hired so many from one school, that it was impossible to hire only the top 10%. And now SAS is undergoing a horrible reverse filter, in which the people most likely to find a better job are that very top 10%.

I know many people who have left, and many who remain. There are absolutely enough talented employees remaining to fix SAS.

SAS has one fundamental problem: they need new revenue streams. It's the same problem faced by Steve Jobs when he returned to Apple. Jobs needed a loan from Bill Gates just to keep Apple alive. That loan bought him time, and he had the talent, to find and grow new revenue streams.

SAS has tried for decades to start new revenue streams. Few products succeeded. New products were generally assigned to managers who did not know how to make them grow. People with the talent to grow new revenue streams were generally not promoted to management.

About a third of the managers at SAS are excellent. But they must continually compromise with other managers who are not. And some of those people are in high positions.

If SAS keeps promoting people who don't know how to grow new revenue streams, the attrition will continue, until all the best people have left. If a Steve Jobs figure appears, there is absolutely enough talent remaining to fix the fundamental problem. But that person needs to show up soon.

Post ID: @2kyt+1fUCncfN

Jim, you’ve long tempted fate,
With staffing largely from State
All the young and those Trollops
Full of dung and white dollops
Their monthly releases are late.

To stop the steepening trends,
Jim must fire his families and friends!
And get rid of the masses
Who sit on their as--s
And those that kiss their rear ends.

Post ID: @kec+1fUCncfN
  1. Dr G retires
  2. sell JMP
  3. fire all the people that don't add value or drive revenue (99% of the Industry Consultants, artists in residence, etc.)
  4. sell IDEAS
  5. buy Singlestore
  6. buy Alteryx
  7. FIX R&D... too slow, too expensive, etc.
  8. hire people that know how to run an IPO
Post ID: @ymn+1fUCncfN

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