JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 43 : May 14, 2001

Business, marketing & futures commentary.
New attitudes, no platitudes.
Stay e-tuned....

  • GE-Honeywell Merger Machinations
  • The Silicon Body
  • The Second Coming - A Manifesto by David Gerlertner
  • MEMS - Neat Motion Sensing Applications
  • Aaron - Computer Artist (Kurzweil's Free Screensaver)
  • eFeedback :
    • Robot Futures
    • Language Barriers
    • The Power of Religion
Steve Darnell [sdarnell@ra.rockwell.com] recently e-complained:
    "After the missives you have been giving recently about Cluetrain, I'm wondering why you've changed the eNews content. Where is the hard-hitting investigation? Where is the news before it happens?

    Come back - we await you!"

Thank you, Steve, for your confidence and high expectations! Actually, I've been more interested recently in technology futures and have perhaps been neglecting the scuttlebutt that comes to me regularly from my past (and still active) associations in industrial-automation.

But, to stimulate my automation audience, here's an update on the GE-Honeywell merger.

GE-Honeywell merger machinations

A recent statement from GE President-elect Jeff Immelt (while Chairman Jack Welch inches towards retirement) stated:
    "Honeywell's management team has announced that it is focusing on the right issues: reducing costs aggressively in a tough economic environment. GE remains excited about the Honeywell acquisition. An estimated $3 billion in annual synergies are double what we initially thought. We're very confident this acquisition will deliver tremendous value for our share owners."

One GE top insider e-commented:

    "No touch with reality. Layoffs will continue and accelerate under GE. Money is still made the old-fashioned way and Honeywell will get a severe lesson in economics under GE. Remember, Immelt is getting what Jack Welch feeds him on this. The $3B began as $400M. Within a week of doing the deal, Jack asked them to double the number. Internal circle-jerks jumped the number to $800M, then $1B. Jack then asked them to double that number as more economic woes materialized and the number jumped to $2B with more internal mental masturbation. Then time wore on and more economic challenges were found and Jack said, "Let there be more synergies!" and there was $3B. Amazing how GE mid-level managers genuflect when Jack says jump. What Jack wants, Jack gets. Does it have to be real? Most people know it is not."

Another shrewd financial GE mole e-complained :

    "This will be VERY painful because Jack and Immelt have created analysts expectations that are unrealistic. But, Jack will make sure that it happens. It is a simple equation in his mind: $3 Billion divided by the $ cost per head=number of heads to be cut. Now just go and do it and make sure it happens. Whether there is any real value afterwards is questionable. My guess is that they will put lipstick on the IAC pig, make the numbers look good via the previous methodology and peddle the mess to Siemens which has an appetite for ugly companies due to their lower profit expectations and belief that all that is needed is a little good German disciple to fix them."

Pinto Prognostication :

The Europe investigation will drag on with GE dragging its feet. Jack Welch will exit, leaving Immelt to "welch" on the deal and back off for excellent reasons “beyond their control”. GE was attracted primarily by the Honeywell Avionics business in the first place.

The Wall Street Journal had this story:
European Commission Objects to GE Purchase of Honeywell
The ball is back in General Electric Co.'s court now that the European Commission has issued its formal statement of objections to the proposed $41 billion purchase of Honeywell. Read it here :

Click Wall Street Journal May 10 2001

Click Previous Pinto predictions & prognostications on Honeywell/GE

Hey! You might enjoy this news-item that came to me recently from a Honeywell employee, about their soon-to-be-booted (my prediction) CEO Michael Bonsignore:

    Honeywell to cut workforce 120 percent
    New York, N.Y. (SatireWire.com)

    Honeywell will reduce its workforce by an unprecedented 120 percent by the end of 2001. This is believed to be the first time a major corporation has laid off more employees than it actually has. The decision, announced Wednesday, came after a yearlong internal review of cost-cutting procedures, according to Honeywell Chairman and CEO Mike Bonsignore.

    The initial report concluded the company would save $1.2 billion by eliminating 20 percent of its 108,000 employees. From there, said Bonsignore, "it didn't take a genius to figure out that if we cut 40 percent of our workforce, we'd save $2.4 billion, and if we cut 100 percent of our workforce, we'd save $6 billion. But then we thought, why stop there? Let's cut another 20 percent and save $7 billion."

    Bonsignore explained the strategy: "Honeywell plans to achieve the 100 percent internal reduction through layoffs, attrition and early retirement packages. To achieve the 20 percent in external reductions, we plan to downsize 22,000 ex-Honeywell employees who presently work for other companies."

    Inspiration for Honeywell's plan came from previous cutback initiatives, said company officials. In July of 1999, for instance, the company announced it would trim 18,000 jobs over two years. However, just a year later, Honeywell said it had already reached its quota. Bonsignore said: "We were quite surprised at the number of employees willing to leave Honeywell in such a hurry, and we decided to build on that."

    Analysts credited Bonsignore's short-term vision, noting that the announcement had the desired effect of encouraging GE to continue with the acquisition. GE has been rumored to be having second thoughts. Of course, the long-term ramifications could be detrimental. A Bear Stearns analyst suggested, "It's a little early to tell, but by eliminating all its employees, Honeywell may jeopardize its market position and could, at least theoretically, cease to exist." Bonsignore urged patience: "To my knowledge, this has never been done before. So, let's just wait and see what happens."

The Silicon Body

The aerospace technologies that make possible spy satellites and pilot-less drones are moving into pacemakers, defibrillators, hearing aids and a boundless new array of stimulators, pumps and prostheses. The push now is to pack mobility, logic and communications all together into small, autonomous capsules that can function, not only on the surface of Mars, but also on the surface of the human brain, and in the human body.

Click Peter Hubers article : Forbes Magazine, 05.14.01

The Second Coming

It's a marvelous age that we live in right now: The age right before biological convergence with mechanism, where ultimately we will be wearing our computers as part of our bodies. We are now in the century of the merger of bio-informatics, biotechnology, and information processing.

As we begin to understand cellular processes and neural representations, and develop microelectronic and nanoscale technologies, our artifacts will be able to interact with our biological forms at a fundamental level. We are starting to fathom the complexity of nature, and starting to know what to do with it.

Computing will be transformed. It's not just that our problems are big, they are big and obvious. It's not just that the solutions are simple, they are simple and right under our noses. Meanwhile, money and ideas surge through our communal imaginations like beer from burst barrels. The atmosphere is a little strange; change is coming, soon.

Click David Gerlertner's "The Second Coming - A Manifesto" on the web

MEMS - Tiny accelerometer for motion-sensing

Analog Devices (the company that manufactures MEMS accelerometers for automobile air-bags) has come up with a tiny MEMS chip which can be used as a movement sensor, to protect valuable items like laptops and art against theft.

Caveo Technology, the first company to market this product, is in Cambridge, MA. - close to Analog Devices. Caveo is developing integrated systems that measure motion, interpret it, make decisions, and take action, offering the potential for enhanced performance, convenience and security.

This type of sensor has applications beyond just theft. How about controlling cell phones with gestures: tap your phone to turn it on or off; flick your wrist to make a call; put it in your pocket upside-down to turn-off the ringer.

Lots of applications for the PDA in your pocket: move the PDA up or down to scroll back and forth through a document; shake your PDA to erase a file; turn it on its side to read the screen in landscape mode.

Click Caveo webpage - the MEMS Laptop anti-theft device

This idea (and several other good ones I have used now and then) came through Jeffrey Harrow of Compaq, who publishes RCFoC (Rapidly Changing Face of Computers).

Click Subscribe (free) to RCFoC newsletter

AARON - Computer artist - download a free screensaver

An artificial-intelligence program called AARON, developed by Harold Cohen, actually creates original paintings, each one completely different. Copies of AARON paintings have hung in museums around the world (London's Tate Modern Galley, Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, and Washington Capital Children's Museum, to name a few). If a human created paintings like AARON, we would regard him or her as an acclaimed artist.

Ray Kurzweil calls AARON "the most sophisticated cybernetic art program that I'm aware of". Ray has had a copy of AARON running on a large panel display in his lobby for the last two years and reports that it never fails to elicit enormous interest. So Ray has licensed Harold Cohen's remarkable art software and a Kurzweil software team has created a screen-saver that creates an endless sequence of original art. It's a lot more interesting than screen savers that always look the same. You actually see each line being drawn and each color being applied stroke by stroke. You can save and print out the artwork, and even send them as creative greetings.

Click Download a free copy of the Aaron Screensaver

Click View an AARON painting (rendered stroke by stroke)


Dr. Jim Pearson, ISA Executive Director [jpearson@ISA.org] e-commented :
    "Your reports of items such as "The Quantum Brain", and "Robotics futures" are eerily reminiscent of some of the main themes in Isaac Asimov's novels. If you haven't read "Robots & Empire" or "I, Robot" or the 5-book Foundation series, you should. Good science fiction, and maybe somewhat prophetic about the possible conflicts that will arise as our machines become smarter and more human-like."

Regarding language barriers, Robert Unseld, editor of the German Elektronik Journal [r.unseld@mi-verlag.de] e-laughed:

    "... and if you look at your MS Word thesaurus in German, you’d like to laugh a bit (not to speak of the grammar and orthography-correction). Babylon is everywhere...."

This from my old friend Andy Anderson [andymary@ameritech.net] - one of the very first Action Instruments Sales Reps:

    "Your latest eNews reminded me of the e-mail I recently received from my granddaughter in Denver. It shows the "power of religion" - Ha !"

      An elderly woman had just returned to her home from an evening of church service when an intruder startled her. As she caught the man in the act of robbing her home of its valuables, she yelled, "Stop! Acts; 2:38!" ("Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ so our sins may be forgiven").

      The burglar stopped in his tracks. The woman calmly called the police and explained what she had done. As the officer cuffed the man to take him in, he asked the burglar, "Why did you just stand there? All the old lady did was yell a scripture to you."

      "SCRIPTURE?" replied the burglar, "She said she had an AXE and two 38's!"

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