Friday, November 13, 2009

GE - we bring good things to...well, to everyone else

In the same way that the computer industry bounces between completely centralized and completely decentralized models, individual companies bounce between diversification and consolidation. When businesses enter a diversification mode, they build on their existing strengths and enter new areas, from which they will use their core talents to dominate new areas and bring their owners/shareholders a ton of money. When businesses enter a consolidation mode, they shed unproductive or satellite busineses, allowing the company to concentrate on their core competencies to dominate existing areas and bring their owners/shareholders a ton of money. Businesses can alternate between the two scenarios, expanding and contracting more than Lawrence Welk's accordion.

The American megacorporation General Electric is clearly in the consolidation mode.

For FTC disclosure purposes, I should note that one of General Electric's consolidation moves affected me personally, since my employer picked up a significant stake of the former GE Homeland Protection (now Morpho Detection). All I can say is that this business unit does some really cool stuff.

Another of General Electric's potential consolidation moves may impact everyone living in the United States. Over two decades ago, General Electric bought the National Broadcasting Company, then one of the three major television networks in the United States. The U.S. television landscape has significantly changed over the last two decades, and owning a TV network isn't what it used to be, so Comcast might get that part of GE. And it's a big deal.

Well, there's another part of GE that has definitely been grabbed, according to the New York Times:

General Electric said Thursday that it would sell its fire alarm and security systems unit to United Technologies for $1.82 billion, continuing a sale of what the industrial conglomerate considers noncore businesses.

And some marketing hack wrote a couple of quotes and attributed it to a GE person and a (currently) GE person.

“The Security business required significant investment in its capabilities to evolve and better serve the security industry,” said Charlene Begley, President & CEO, GE Enterprise Solutions, which includes GE Security.

“For our customers and our employees UTC is a natural fit,” Begley said. “The combination of UTC's existing product portfolio and GE Security’s outstanding, highly complementary products creates a broad set of offerings for our customers and partners.”

“Customers will see increased breadth and depth of product offerings, as well as a global reach that serves a range of industry segments,” said Dean Seavers, President & CEO, GE Security. “This is a great move for our Security business because we are bringing together teams who are committed to growing their presence in the Security industry.

And someone else - or perhaps the same person - wrote a quote and attributed it to one of the United Technologies people.

“We’re excited to invest in a company whose technologies will improve our growing position in the fire and security industry,” said [William] Brown. “GE Security has well respected products and brands that complement our existing portfolio and position us well for future growth.”

Some years ago, David Lucas wrote a jingle for General Electric entitled "We Bring Good Things to Life." (Which I guess is a step up from playing cowbells on "Don't Fear the Reaper.") Will GE subsequently commission Lucas to write a new jingle entitled "Electric Avenue"? Oops, that's been done, and the corporate entity that adopted that Eddy Grant song as its jingle didn't do too well in the long run. Interestingly, the original Montgomery Ward was owned in its last years by GE Capital. Interestingly, GE Capital has NOT been spun off from General Electric - yet.
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