Thread regarding SAS Institute layoffs

The golden era of SAS has long past

An elite few built world-class skills because they carefully curated their careers over a long period of time while continuing to up-skill on their own time+dime. Many had to put up with less than ideal, to downright awful managers for certain seasons to see this thru. SAS Has fallen far from its former greatness and that can be laid directly at the feet of its founder and chief cultural architect. Proceed at your own risk.

A former SAS “lifer”

The OP has a point. Taken from @uuun+1j17zNi6.

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Post ID: @OP+1jBcfkDH

5 replies (most recent on top)

@SAS-O-Matic I'll bet we did work together. I agree with all you wrote.

"The greatest value SAS Software delivers today and corresponding revenue comes from software designed before the company became a product/marketing driven organization."

Many talented people remain at SAS. However, the best must compromise with the rest. Those compromises never produced a second revenue stream to replace the original one.

Good on you for raising the issue with JG. I'm not surprised the focus turned to sales. That shows one reason why the best R&D contributors were not rewarded.

I always thought another reason was that many R&D managers could not tell the difference between the best and the rest.

Nothing will change now, until the IPO. Then, everything will change.

Post ID: @Gwcr+1jBcfkDH

Replying primarily to OldSASer. I have no doubt that we know each other and probably have worked together directly. You are correct … it is quite a feat that a privately held software company like SAS has not only remained for 46+ years, but grew for most of that time. I was there for most of that ride and it was pretty amazing.

The biggest problem I see (and it happens everywhere) is developing effective management during high growth. No doubt this is especially challenging at privately held companies with a small number of founders, who become extravagantly wealthy yet remain involved to at least some degree in the day in and day out operations of the business. This is SAS to the “T”.

I had a couple of personal conversations with JG over the years regarding ways that R&D in particular could be improved and expertise developed in deeper and more effective ways. Of course, he didn’t have much to say in a way of response and it was always around doing something that had a shorter term impact our revenue. So from my calculus, the two biggest fails were #1 not having enough vision/investment of resources in longer-term research interests and staff development, #2 Shifting focus away from keeping SAS an R&D driven organization.

The plain fact is is the greatest value SAS Software delivers today and corresponding revenue comes from software designed before the company became a product/marketing driven organization. Instead, the investment should have been made in paying top employees better, keeping the management hierarchy flatter (which can be done when you pay well enough to hire the most competent developers and other staff) and focus on building a better long-term foundation rather than squandering resources on failed solutions and organizational window dressing.

Ultimately, anyone who significantly contributed over decades to build SAS should of had a bigger piece of the action. The fact that this did not occur may be why some employees were dubbed “the retired in place” because they no longer cared about “moving the needle”. The cumulative effect of this over time absolutely diminished productivity and innovation. It was the double-edge sword of not having enough skills to move to a tech company that provided equity, yet being valuable enough to the aging SAS technical infrastructure to be kept around to stoke the legacy revenue stream.

Post ID: @Fiim+1jBcfkDH

There is a marked difference in the mentality of someone joining SAS today and someone who literally helped build the company from the ground up starting back in the 80s. The later crowd are part of computing history and I’m proud to be among them. SAS In many ways pioneered the benefits and workplace amenities that are now coming into culture period this goes all the way back to the early 80s.

The problem is that the SAS founders are from a different generation and JG in particular was/is not able to understand the need for accelerated compensation among his best employees (especially within R&D). The founders tolerated ineffective directors and managers along with a “not invented here” culture that for too long isolated SAS practically speaking from the open source movement which is currently eating SAS’ lunch.

Post ID: @2unb+1jBcfkDH

As is the case with any career, you have to build your own skills and capabilities. As someone coming into SAS, I expect that to happen.

Will I stay 20 years? Sounds fantastic, but nobody does that these days. We're all flipping jobs into something later.

Post ID: @voc+1jBcfkDH

Thank you for posting. I don't claim the "world-class skills"; but otherwise, that succinctly describes my experience.

It was still a great achievement to keep a software company going for more than 40 years. Hundreds of people actually became SAS "lifers": they got lifetime employment.

SAS is frustrating because it could have been better. But some places are worse. I would not want to be at Twitter or Facebook right now.

Post ID: @nmh+1jBcfkDH

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