Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Correlation or coincidence?

Why is it that so many of the big companies that are getting into trouble in the current economic environment are NetApp customers? Is there a correlation or is it just coincidence? Below are three examples which illustrate the linkage:

First, let's look at Yahoo which is currently experiencing some difficulties....

Yahoo is laying off 1500 employees and they are a big user of NetApp.

"Yahoo is bracing for a deep downturn likely to extend well into 2009 by trimming $400 million from its annual expenses of $3.9 billion. Besides shedding 1,500 workers during the next two months, Yahoo may close some of its U.S. offices and assign more jobs to lower-paid contractors in other countries. "We are going into what is very clearly a recession mode," Blake Jorgensen, Yahoo's chief financial officer, said in a Tuesday interview. "

NetApp has been very proud of its long relationship with Yahoo

"NetApp is proud to be the network file server of choice for Yahoo! e-mail. If you'd like more information about NetApp file servers or web caching solutions"

Would a reduction in NetApp's service and support costs have helped Yahoo reduce its operating costs and saved some employees their jobs?


We could ask the same questions about the situation at Goldman Sachs.


Investment bank Goldman Sachs Group is looking for a way to trim expenses as it transitions to a traditional bank holding company. To 10.0% of its employees, cost cuts spell unemployment.
Goldman Sachs Group (nyse:
GS - news - people ) will cut 3,260 of its 32,569 employees worldwide, according to a Reuters report released Thursday.


An easy way for the folks at Goldman to trim expenses would be to lower their support costs for their NetApp storage. Goldman has not gotten as much press as some of NetApp's other customers on their storage infrastructure, but there is a lot of equipment there.


Third, is the sad affairs that occurred at Lehman Brothers. Lehman was a big user and a fan of NetApp equipment before they ran into big trouble.

"Now, he says sales to finance have fallen even more, to a run rate below 10% of NetApp’s sales. He even notes that Lehman owes NetApp money (“We’ll see if Barclays makes good or not,” says Warmenhoven.)"

Things can change quickly in the marketplace. I wonder if NetApp's CFO knew of any difficulties when he was a featured presenter at this Lehman conference less than a year ago?

Sunnyvale, Calif. - December 5, 2007 -- Network Appliance, Inc. (NASDAQ: NTAP), a leader in advanced networked storage solutions, today announced that Steve Gomo, Executive Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer, will present at the Lehman Brothers Global Technology Conference in San Francisco, CA on Friday, December 7, 2007, at 8:30 a.m. Pacific Standard Time.

Perhaps the NetApp CFO should have tried to collect on their outstanding debt which Mr. Warmenhoven mentioned above prior to speaking at the event? Shouldn't the NetApp CFO have been watching Lehman's deteriorating credit situation, and shouldn't he have mentioned it to the folks at Lehman who invited him to speak? Now NetApp may have a questionable receivable on its books. Coincidentally, Lehman helped bring NetApp public .


Neither Yahoo, Goldman Sachs or Lehman Brothers were ever customers of ours. I wonder if their storage procurement people ever looked into ways in which they could reduce their NetApp support costs? Perhaps now is the time to review their service and support costs?

Our business has been strong these last few months and there seems to be a correlation between the state of the economy and the growth of our independent NetApp service and support business within larger companies . As our growing family of customers knows, Zerowait provides high availability NetApp support at an affordable cost.

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