May 26, 2023
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Sientra, Citrix execs learning hard lessons


Two major employers on the Central Coast are learning in real time that technology management does matter.

For breast implant maker Sientra, the management of its global logistics chain and global regulatory regime appears to have gotten badly off track. Tiny particles that U.S. regulators deemed not harmful caught the eye of European regulators, who forced the company to suspend sales.

The domino effect has been severe — a plunging stock price, lawsuits, a house cleaning in the executive suite and a company whose future is so uncertain that one major brokerage stopped covering the company.

What went wrong in the triangular relationship between Sientra, its Brazilian supplier Silimed and healthcare regulators certainly is worthy of further study. Particularly since not a single person on the planet has suffered an adverse health effect due to the particles found on the surface of the Silimed-produced implants.

On to Case Study No. 2. When it acquired the GoToMeeting franchise from South Coast company ExpertCity a decade ago, Florida-based software maker Citrix talked about synergies and a potential growth strategy.

Citrix kept the core GoToMeeting technology in Goleta and expanded its employment base. But several management shakeups and reorganizations later, the much-talked-about growth scenario has not emerged and the estimated $4 billion value of the GoToMeeting franchise has not been unlocked.

Under relatively gentle prodding from activist investors, Citrix is now going to spin off the GoToMeeting operations and slash jobs by 1,000. Just another saga of a merger that was ill-conceived and ill-timed? Or was there a way to better manage the amazing technology of GoToMyPC or GoToMeeting in a way that would have provided better returns to shareholders?

We must win asymmetric war

One concept keeps getting lost in the debate over whether to put “boots on the ground” to defeat ISIS in the wake of the horrific attacks in Paris and the bombing of a Russian jet.

That concept is the notion of an asymmetric war where the enemy doesn’t show up on the battlefield in conventional terms.

The notion of asymmetric war disrupts one of the tenets of the Powell Doctrine — the use of overwhelming force.  The other two pillars of the formula developed by Colin Powell — having a broad coalition and a unified nation — remain essential ingredients of any victory.

Instead of merely force on the ground, the asymmetric warfare requires holding the overwhelming advantage in information flow and intelligence in addition to forces on the ground, something clearly lacking in the effort to defeat a wily and dangerous foe.

At Naval Base Ventura County, a team known as the Center for Asymmetric Warfare has been studying the science of threat assessment and response for more than a decade. We hope they are keeping the lights on late at NBVC as the ISIS threat gets closer and closer to the homeland.