I'd been wondering if my company would be hit by the financial crisis and/or the recession. I'd sort of thought not, but hadn't bothered to research it. As it happens, one of our biggest customers, poised to pay us a tremendous amount of money, is wholly owned by GE, which is requiring a 10% budget reduction across the board. Our other biggest customer has about $3 billion in debt to service, taken out by the private equity firms that bought it, and while they're profitable, their creditors are pressing them to cut costs, lest the loans be called in. Essentially, almost all of our revenue deals dissolved or were put on hold, in the space of a couple weeks.
The way to keep the company solvent is (to double up on metaphors) to batten down the hatches and go into bunker mode. Last month, Sequoia Capital Partners, one of the big VCs, assembled the CEOs of their portfolio companies and gave them a big scary presentation called "RIP Good Times". The whole thing is quite good, but the money shot is slide 49, which comes from the experience of their companies in the 2001 recession. Those that recognized the danger, developed a clear plan, and made a single extremely deep cut early on, almost all survived. Those that made several smaller cuts over a longer period didn't. This makes sense on several fronts: employees are your greatest expense, and more generally, if you're making multiple small cuts, you're not acting on a clear strategy that recognizes the hazard you're in.
Executive summary: instead of working for an 80-person company with increasing revenues, I now work for a 19-person company hunkering down to do R&D on a minimal burn rate for as long as we can (supposedly 12-18 months with no additional revenues).
Silver lining: maybe we can all move into the empty offices. *cough* (I'm not exactly joking, but I'll wait until everyone is gone in December before suggesting it.)