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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Bad news for EDS (EDS): spin-out trouble

Just saw some bad news for EDS; mainly they're cutting off plans to spin-out AT Kearney to the partners of the consultancy and are looking to sell it to a 3rd party. Why is this news negative? Because services businesses are fragile business models and in situations like their value can be destroyed quickly. In this case, it's clear that there were negotiations with ATK managing partners. These managing partners wanted to take the brand as their own and spin out of EDS. But now EDS is going to try and extract more value from a 3rd party. Did the discussions between EDS and the ATK managing partners deteriorate? If so, how motivated are these partners to stick around and be compliant under another firm?
Here's the rub: The value of ATK lies in the consulting firms partners and employees. It will be very difficult for EDS to sell this value to another firm and keep that value for themselves. Why? Because it will be likely that the existing partners and employees of ATK will leave for other firms and/or start their own consultancy.
In other words, the value of ATK lies within the employees that compose ATK, not EDS. This is the paradox of services businesses; they don't scale well and the owner never really owns all of the value -- the consultants do.
I noticed that EDS' stock is declining on the news.

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