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Tim Talk: GE's reorganization reaches San Ramon digital headquarters

GE Digital in Bishop Ranch shedding nearly 150 jobs as part of corporate reset

The corporate reorganization of General Electric reached into San Ramon last year when the firm submitted required documents to the state announcing 148 layoffs in its Digital Division in Bishop Ranch.

CEO John Flannery, who took over last summer, has announced plans to significantly pare down the conglomerate including shedding its namesake light bulbs. In the fourth quarter, GE cut its dividend in half, a first for the 125-year-old company. Former CEO Jeff Immelt had positioned GE to be at the forefront of the Internet of things and the San Ramon division was driving that vision.

Flannery's dramatic moves are no surprise given the miserable performance of GE in the stock market. In a year, when the Dow was up 25 percent and companies such as Amazon (up 56 percent) Boeing (up 89 percent) soared, GE was one of the big losers. Its stock fell 45 percent as investors considered Flannery's plan to slim down the conglomerate.

The CEO described 2018 as a year of "reset" for GE and told analyst it will shed about $20 billion in businesses over the next few years.

The reorganization of GE Digital in San Ramon shows the firm's investment into the "Internet of Things" may be slowing. In an earlier Business Times report GE was planning to grow by 25 percent in San Ramon. It has leased 340,000 square feet in Bishop Ranch since announcing it would be headquartered in San Ramon in 2015. It grew 500 employees between 2016-2017 and planned to add another 500 this year according to the Business Times.

The story quoted a GE spokeswoman who said the layoffs were part of a realignment necessary in the plan to grow the company. As 2017's results showed, it has lagged competitors in shareholder value for many years.

Reading through the comments following Dennis Miller's article about Matt Sweeney retiring as the Foothill High football coach after 31 years, I was struck by two:

1. Bob Ladouceur, the legendary De La Salle coach wrote, "Congratulations on a great career. Your teams were always tough, well prepared. You've won more game you had no business winning than any coach I've coached against. Well done."

2. Craig Bergman, the long-time Monte Vista football coach, wrote, "Coach Sweeney is one of the finest football coaches I've ever known. I've thoroughly enjoyed all of the battles we have had in the field. No matter the outcome, we would always talk the next day and congratulate each other. Proud to call him a friend. Good luck Matt with everything, you've earned a nice break."

There were several other positive comments from families whose sons had played for Sweeney over the years, but those comments from his coaching peers stood out to me.

Editor's note: Journalist Tim Hunt has written columns on the Tri-Valley community for more than 40 years. He grew up in the valley and lives in Pleasanton. His "Tim Talk" blog appears twice a week at DanvilleSanRamon.com.

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