Wendy Stories
July 2000

A Telik-ate Situation

Way back in the mid-nineties, I worked at an aspiring and friendly biotech start-up. It was my job after a stint as lab researcher at Stanford. I worked on the bench, manipulated and probed protein and DNA, supervised three-and-a-half employees before the layoff.

Terrapin was founded by an amiable man named Larry. My boss was the classic curmudgeon with a heart of gold. I was occasionally trapped in a gloomy attitude because of my  d i v o r c e, but still I got more results than most lab rats.

Then there was a layoff. 60% were gone. 30 people. All my employees. They renamed the company Telik. My boss polished up his resume while encouraging me to stay. (He apologized for that later.) I stayed at Telik long enough to see a cutthroat business team brought in.

In an overnight shakeout amiable Founder Larry was pushed out, the research heads demoted with a new VP who brought in two of his men to head the departments. The existing middle management was steamrolled.

My curmudgeonly boss was a naysayer. He saw his crew dwindle as they were switched to other managers. He quit for a new job. Then I had a new boss briefly, but he was belittled at meetings and surreptitiously demoted while on vacation, losing 10 of 11 employees. One of them was me.

I was foisted off on a new boss who didn't like me.

That was pretty much the end of the line for me at Telik. I had been working for two years without a promotion, with each manager in turn saying he would promote me at my next performance review, but each of them left before it happened. I explained this to my new boss who also promised to promote me. He forgot so I asked again. He said no. I said I could find a new job at that level elsewhere. That was a mistake.

I was fired with two weeks' severance. I talked myself up to three weeks, which Jacob disagrees with to this day. And I was out on my ear with five weeks of paid time off if you count vacation days.

From there I became webmaster of the Pro-Tools company, meanwhile the Darwin Awards took off, there was consulting on the side, yada yada yada. You know all the rest.

Still I can't forget cutthroat Telik. Sure it was ultimately good for me to seek a new job, but what they did was cruel and even bad for the company. They lost valuable knowledge and skills when they fired me instead of keeping me happy with a promotion. I just heard they went public. I don't regret letting the options lapse. But I do regret that such behavior prospers.

I made their first website at www.telik.com. It's kind of broken now.

Which reminds me: in the movie Mission Impossible, the thieves want stock options. Has the world gone insane?

August 2000

A Telik Chemist Talks About Ants >
Quitting The Next Job >

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