Obscenities, Chaos, H1-Bs—And High Reported Earnings: My Year With AIG
In my previous life
before law school I worked as a
computer programmer. For most of that time I worked
computer consulting organizations, going from
company to company as one project finished and I moved
on to another.
Only superlatives can describe what
I saw while working at AIG`s
computer operation. It was the most
mismanaged company of any type that I have ever
seen. Nearly every company has some bad practices. AIG
managed to adopt nearly
every bad practice imaginable at the same time.
At the high level, the
management at AIG was prone to making rash decisions
without thinking through the consequences. They also had
a tendency to throw money at problems rather than coming
up with efficient solutions.
A well-publicized example of rash
action at AIG occurred in 1994. That year, AIG fired
250 computer programmers and
replaced them with
lower-paid Indian programmers imported on
H-1B guest worker visas. (One of the things I worked
on at AIG involved cleaning up the inevitable resulting
AIG is still big on importing cheap
foreign labor. In 2007, the various AIG companies
Labor Conditional Applications for H-1B visas.
At the low level, two features of
AIG stand out in my memory. Senior managers
yelling obscenities with their door open so the
entire floor could hear is something one rarely
encounters in computing organizations. AIG is also the
only company I have seen where software development
teams sabotaged other teams. AIG was simply a complete
The year I spent at AIG was a
milestone in my career. For after working at AIG, it
became impossible ever again to say, This is the most
screwed-up company I have ever seen.
Now we know the answer: It was all
a house of cards.
No event has more demonstrated how
politicians are to
campaign cash and
removed from the will of the public as the recent
bailout has. The
large investment in politicians these companies made
was bargain compared to the trillion-dollar payoff.
Now we see the fruits of our
generosity. Not a week has passed since the public
bailed out AIG and
business as usual is back. AIG sent executives to a
resort spending $440,000 in the process, including
$23,380 in spa treatments. [AIG
Execs` Retreat After Bailout Angers Lawmakers,
By Andrew Taylor (AP),
Somehow, this did not surprise me
When are the American people going
to rise up and put a stop to this?
him) was a computer
programmer for 18 years before going to law school. He
has written two books on computer programming as well as
numerous technical articles for various computer
publications. He has also written articles on the state
of the computer industry for publications ranging from
to USA Today.
He was also the founder of the
Guild, a professional organization for computer