I’ll never forget the day Pseudo died. It was a Monday, and the CEO called the whole company up into the 6th floor studio. He said we’d run out of money, and save one last possible source that would be calling within the hour, the company would be closing its doors for good. The paycheck we’d gotten the Friday before would be the last salary we’d see.
The phone call came, and the answer was no. We all filtered out the back door and into the bar across the alley. We started drinking around noon and didn’t stop for weeks. At one point, we traveled in a pack to the NYC unemployment office, and we stayed close over the following months, helping each other figure out what was next.
What we didn’t do was get a bailout from taxpayers. We didn’t get a government-funded do-over. I bring this up because I’m having a lot of trouble understanding why a contractual agreement to pay bonuses trumps the sad but true reality that AIG drove itself into the ground. Contract or no contract. The company doesn’t have any money. You don’t get paid. You definitely don’t get a bonus.
My Pseudo severance turned up years later. Years. After all the creditors had been paid off and all the debts had been settled. And then I got two weeks. It was something, but it wasn’t much.
Lots of dotcoms went bust back then. Investors and entrepreneurs learned their lessons. When you build your empire on sand, it’s bound to wash out when the tide rolls in. But remember, at no point did the government step in and prop up the castles.
AIG and the rest of the bailout recipients should consider themselves beyond lucky and behave accordingly. This whole bonus debacle is ridiculous.