Friday, July 03, 2009

The Acquisition - 4

The day was punctuated by lunch in the conference room: scrupulously distributed white boxes containing a gourmet-style sandwich, a bag of kettle-fried chips, packets of deli mustard and mayonnaise, a dainty cookie. Meals assembled by gloved hands in a clean room. There was the requisite, tense small talk: Where are you guys staying in town? When do you fly back?

My last interview was with Vincent Shuck, a tall Dutchman with a cloudy accent. He conducted the entire interview beside the whiteboard of a conference room, dry-erase marker in hand. He asked me exactly one question: "How would you like your technology to be used?" I acquitted myself with a vaguely meaningful answer that I'm not sure he listened to.

Vincent turned to the board and drew elaborate diagrams and flowcharts. This product group, that product. Arrows from one node to another. From several nodes to one. The consulting services group. A Venn diagram. Synergistic opportunities. Vertical markets. Words inside boxes, words in a bullet-pointed list. Sales account managers. ROI. On the few occasions when he turned to me he fixed his gaze on my third eye. I nodded judiciously and strategically punctuated his discourse with affirmations: Uh huh. Yup. I see. Right. After forty minutes he capped his marker, apparently satisfied.