Friday, August 31, 2012

"A buyer's market"

From Susan Ainsworth's recent article about #chemjobs on the East Coast at small companies, an interesting admission from the founder of SiGNa Chemistry:
New York City-based SiGNa Chemistry, which has developed and patented a green method for stabilizing reactive alkali metals in nanostructured porous oxide powders, is also expanding into new industries, such as oil and gas, batteries, and alternative energy. As a result, “we are hiring rapidly,” says its president and founder, Michael Lefenfeld (see page 43). SiGNa has been recruiting inorganic and materials chemists, as well as chemical engineers, material engineers, and ceramic engineers to add to its current staff of 65. 
Like many early-stage and midsized companies right now, SiGNa is able to step up hiring not only because of mounting demand from a growing customer base, “but also because we can bring in top talent at a price that is lower than it might have been a few years ago,” Lefenfeld says. “I don’t want to pick the bones of a bad economy, but hiring in a ‘buyer’s market’ is a huge growth opportunity for a small to medium-sized organization.” 
Although new hires “may be offered less cash—which is always held more tightly in smaller firms—they may also receive stock options, which could potentially increase their total compensation,” Lefenfeld notes. “Working for a small company offers some risks, but it can also offer some rewards or windfalls, if the company grows, goes public, or is acquired.”
I think reporters do a great job when they get employers to say these things on record -- we all know that it's an employer's market right now, but it's great when employers are confident enough to say it.

[I think we're all old enough to realize that stock options are not the wonderment that employers make them out to be. Do they think that we weren't around for the dotcom bust?]


  1. "Do they think that we weren't around for the dotcom bust?"

    If you're graduating from chemistry school with a Ph.D. today, say at 26 or 27, you'd have been early teens for dotcom bust. I can't speak for anyone else, but when I was 15 I didn't have a clue about stocks. So, ya, the BS of stock options still likely works for some.

    I have found that the kind of smugness Lefenfeld exudes oftentimes does not end well (except for the company execs, though, who will make out like bandits).

  2. Maybe I was a little harsh on Mr. Lefenfeld. Maybe he is a decent, humble, man.

    Sure looks that way from his bio:

    "Michael Lefenfeld is a powerful thinker. You can see it in his eyes and the expression on his face. And he has a knack for turning a creative idea into reality."

    I guess he didn't get up to Proverbs 16:18.....

  3. I agree, the only people who come into money if the company goes public are the founders/upper management. Employees... they will get some money if they risked buying stock options back when, but they'll never make any substantial amount. And in the case of acquisition all they get will be a pink slip. Small companies are bought for their IP, not for people.

  4. I think this is the guy that wanted to toss sodium metal into toilets as a stinky bathroom solution.

  5. I've received stock options as a bonus before. For a privately held company that never went public. The options even had an expiration date. The CEO acted like he was giving me the keys to the kingdom of heaven when he gave them to me.

  6. Bah. Two years back, I applied for a job w/ SiGNa and never heard back from them. Back then they were hiring organic chemists. My summary is: more hype from C&EN.