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by Dale Connelly, 10/15/99

DC: The merger-and-acquisition mania continues. Utilities are combining, such as Consolidated Edison and Northeast Utilities, a three-and-a-half-billion-dollar deal. MCI and Sprint are together now. CBS and Viacom. And these new companies often have revenues larger than the economies of some countries. People jokingly say we're headed towards one big company . . . but there are agents constantly trying to assemble new deals. One proposed buyout would combine Mobile, Exxon, Texaco, Conoco, Amoco, the Kingdom of Monoco, and Domino's. The new company will be called ConAmoBexoMoCo Pizza.
What's going on? To try to make some sense of it, here's business astronomer Stan Neely. Stan?

Stan: It's pretty simple when you look at the big picture. Let me show you on my chalkboard.

(sfx: chalk on board throughout, for emphasis)

The business realm ... it's a universe. Just like the REAL universe.
There's a lot of empty space ... and then there are concentrations of stuff and power.
Over here, you've got the Bank constellations, with several stars, like Norwest and Wells Fargo, Citibank and Traveler's crashing into each other, forming new stars while the ones that we know suffer magnificent deaths. And yet they're not really gone. They're part of a larger whole.
It's happening over here in the Oil Constellation.
It's happening over here in the Technology Constellation.
In the Media Constellation.
These two constellations, Technology and Media ... they're going to join up after a while too!
All over our business universe, stars and worlds are colliding and combining and becoming more powerful and at the same time, much more dense. They're really heavy in here in the bureaucracy in the center. You go in there to try to get something out ... you can hardly move.

DC: What's that made of in there?

Stan: Vice Presidents. They're really dense, which increases the gravity in here, drawing in more and more and more, until finally light itself cannot escape their pull and they become black holes.

DC: What you're describing happens in space. In solar systems. And galaxies. Not here on Earth to corporations.

Stan: What's the difference between galaxies and corporations? They're big, they're spinning, they're full of stuff and nobody knows how to make them behave.

DC: I didn't realize how commerce and astronomy are closely linked. What happens next?

Stan: Everything comes together in one big incredibly dense superheated lump, which we'll call ... for lack of a better word ... AT&T.
All the stuff in the Universe is right in here.
Except for one tiny thing ... the federal government.

DC: But the government isn't tiny.

Stan: When we're comparing it to the whole Universe and everything in it ... the government IS kinda tiny. Believe it or NOT!

DC: Incredible. And it's still out there because ...?

Stan: Because it's reactions are slower than EVERYTHING else in the Universe! So while all this stuff has been pulling and pulling together ... this one piece, this government part ... is still out here.

DC: Is that bad?

Stan: No, it's good. Out of the federal courts you get an anti trust ruling ... which is the only thing that can cause the next big bang. All this flies apart with a tremendous Kablooey, and we do it all over again.

DC: Thanks, Stan. That simplifies it quite a bit.

Stan: I'll write it out for you here .... You're Welcome.

DC: Stan Neely, business astronomer.

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