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It’s not a layoff, it’s a fauxquihire

A phenomenon I’ve recently witnessed is what I’m calling the “fauxquihire” (a purposefully ugly mouthful, though not any worse than acquihire.) In particular, there was a company, with a decent-sized design team, that made a strategic shift in its business, that meant it no longer made sense to have an in-house design team. If it were 5 years ago, this would be a simple (and unfortunate) layoff, with things like severance and, one hopes, a program to help folks find new work.

Now, in this overheated job market (at least in Silicon Valley), this team was being served up as a kind of acquihire, where other companies were offered the opportunity to hire the entire team, and were expected to give the provider some kind of premium in terms of a per-head fee. This way, the provider turns a liability (a team that they can’t get enough value from) into a highly desirable asset. But, it’s not really an acquihire, because the providing company still exists and continues to go about its business.

I don’t have anything more to say about this, except that I find it interesting, and indicative of just how nuts things are in terms of design talent around here.

  1. You’re overthinking this. The justification for a word like “acquihire” (insufficient, IMO, on aesthetic grounds) is that it reflects a new concept: a company acquires another country not to get hold of their main asset, their product, but a secondary asset, their staff.

    In the case of “fauxquihire”, a company acquires an asset of another company (their design group), not to get hold of the design itself, but to… hold on… no, the design group IS what they want.

    So, it’s just an acquisition, no new word required.

  2. I would like a pronunciation guide to “fauxquihire” to help me understand just what you are getting at. Various possibilities have come to mind.

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