Shark Tank: Adios, CompUSA

FRAMINGHAM (05/01/2000) - An insider pilot fish says things are pretty grim at CompUSA Inc. these days. Carlos Slim, the Bill Gates of Latin America, bought the company a few months back and put Carlos Jr. in charge of streamlining things: 3,000 of 20,000 jobs gone, 19 of 28 company officers out the door. Some of that's culture clash: In Latin America, the bosses are the bosses, so forget about any touchy-feely, tell-me-what-you-want approach to employees, the fish says. (Comp-USA says it's down only 1,500 jobs, but no one can confirm the 19 ex-execs because the director of PR got fired, too.) "The IT market is too good," the fish says. "There are no stock options. Why stay around?"


Monday following Easter, IT support pilot fish gets a frantic call from the marketing manager: "His all-in-one printer was making clacking noises and would not print," the fish says. Monkey wrench turns out to be a plastic egg, hidden as part of the annual Easter-egg hunt - by the conspicuously silent CFO down the hall.

PILOT FISH at a fast-growing distributor (up from 15 to 200-plus employees in the past few years) just got a memo from the boss. Because so many e-mails with attachments are clogging the never-upgraded server, IT will now report any big-message senders to the HR director, who will ask the employee why such a large e-mail was sent. Oh, and please send out those big e-mails only after 5 p.m. Those "large e-mails" all contain quotes for customers, grumbles the fish.

And what does this outfit distribute, anyway? Midrange servers.

CFO COMPLAINS about not having enough bandwidth to keep an active connection with a B-to-B partner the company's doing development with. CIO says, "no problem" - he'll update the firewall to block more sites from employees. Which sites? Guns and ammunition and abortion rights and issues. Chuckles a fish who overheard, "If we have that many employees surfing guns and ammo sites, we have bigger problems than bandwidth!"

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