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Brier Dudley's Blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

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July 29, 2008 1:37 PM

Game over for 53 Vivendi employees in Issaquah

Posted by Brier Dudley

With the success of "Guitar Hero", "World of Warcraft" and "Call of Duty", you'd think Vivendi Games wouldn't be cutting employees in its games group.

The group reported a 17.9 percent increase in sales last Thursday.

But the company just notified the state of Washington that it's permanently laying off 53 employees at its Issaquah offices. The cuts will happen Sept. 13-27.

Maybe it has something to do with Vivendi's now-complete acquistion of Activision Blizzard, which may have created some overlap.

I called Vivendi for more details, will update when I hear anything more.

UPDATE: Vivendi still hasn't called back, but I pulled up its proxy statement today that says the Activision merger will lead to consolidations and cost cutting.

It didn't say anything about Issaquah, but mentioned that one of the challenges in making it work is "reducing the costs associated with each company's operations and, in particular, reducing historic losses in the Sierra businesses."

Vivendi set up shop in Issaquah in 2006 when Sierra Online acquired Secret Lair Studios.

Other risks of the merger, disclosed in the proxy, make it clear that job cuts are part of the deal:

"The combined company may not successfully integrate the operations of Activision and Vivendi Games in a timely manner, or at all, and the combined company may not realize the anticipated benefits or synergies of the transaction to the extent, or in the timeframe, anticipated. The anticipated benefits and synergies include cost savings associated with anticipated restructurings and other operational efficiencies, greater economies of scale and revenue enhancement opportunities."

On the positive side, job growth has been strong elsewhere in the region's game industry, so hopefully the 53 people will find something else soon.

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July 29, 2008 10:15 AM

Concur stock flying on American Express investment, partnership

Posted by Brier Dudley

Concur stock is up nearly 17 percent this morning after announcing that American Express bought 13 percent of the Redmond online expense-management company for $251 million, or 6.4 million shares at $39.27.

This could end Concur's run as a low-profile, quiet giant around here...

Continue reading this post ...


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July 29, 2008 9:04 AM

Microsoft releases Vista-loving "Mojave Experiment" video

Posted by Brier Dudley

The "Mojave Experiment" raised eyebrows last week, when it was first disclosed by Ina Fried at Cnet and then outlined during Microsoft's fiancial analyst meeting.

Microsoft basically did a blind taste test, like the old Pepsi-Coke ads, with a bunch of Vista haters and skeptics in San Francisco and recorded the results. They were shown software that was described as Microsoft's next operating system, but actually it was Vista, and they mostly loved it.

The videos are finally public today at MojaveExperiment.com, a nifty Web site where you can zoom around and choose different clips.

More details of the experiment were also posted at the Vista team blog (at 1:09 a.m.?). Excerpts:

"We did not use some geeked out or custom built PC. We used an HP Pavilion DV2500. It had 2GB of RAM and was running an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU T7500 @ 2.20GHz. The OS was a 32 bit version of Windows Vista Ultimate."

"Of the 120 respondents polled, on a scale of 1:10 where 10 was the highest rating, the average pre-rating for Windows Vista was 4.4. After they saw the demo, respondents rated Mojave an average of 8.5."

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Gadgets and games | Fun stuff I've written about lately includes Apple's iPhone, Hewlett-Packard's HDX laptop and Microsoft's Halo3. Also on the radar are new digital video boxes such as the Tivo HD and the Vudu.