Will Current, still be Powered by GE?

With big, bad GE news breaking late Sunday, I had a decision to make.  Should I fly to Cleveland or Boston?

It’s no secret that GE Lighting is for sale; in fact, it is a story that EdisonReport broke in June.  The real question is what will happen to Current.  Is it on the chopping block, as reported by the Boston Business Journal?  Will GE try to put the old band back together and strip out the Lighting portion of Current and put it back into Lighting, and sell as a single unit?  GE Lighting being for sale is old news, so I flew to Boston for a meeting with Current, Powered by GE. 

It was a short meeting.

In the past, I have accused Current of hiding from GE; at one LIGHTFAIR it was almost impossible to find the meatball in their booth. Today, Current looks like it is hiding from Current.  The building is non-descript but they share it with other companies, so I understand why no logo on the outside.    Although the Current website gives the street address, it does not list a floor—nor does it list a phone number that I could find.  Fortunately my inside source told me to go to the 8th floor.   When I talked my way past security and arrived at Floor 8,  I saw nothing that looked like a GE company.   Millennials literally lounging around, some listening to music. (This was easily apparent because I could hear the sound bleeding out of their earbuds.)  I waited at a counter while people picked up their Amazon deliveries and purchased self-pay snacks.  When it was my turn, I asked if I was in the right place, and a very young lady said yes and instructed me to place my driver's license on the on the X where it was immediately scanned, then the screen asked for my host.   I typed in M-A-R, and Maryrose Sylvester, CEO and President of Current, popped up. Jackpot!  I checked the box and the young lady informed me that Maryrose had been notified and someone would get me.  This is my lucky day, I thought, because I had no appointment with Maryrose.

Fifteen long minutes drag by and nothing, so I shot an email to Nikolas Noel, the Current by GE, Director of Communications. 

Another 15 more minutes or so, nothing.  I tried to find a phone number for Current hoping if they hear my charming voice on the phone, they will take the meeting.  I could never get Current on the phone—only Nela Park.

Finally a young lady walks up to me, not sure how she picked me out of the crowd except that I was at least double the average age, and explained that Maryrose will not see me.  I quickly apologized for not having an appointment, and explained the urgency with the breaking news.  Again, “Maryrose will not see you.” OK, I understood and I pulled out my next tool and explained that I would be happy to speak with her off-the-record. This usually works—but not with Current.  After a painfully long pause, she smiled and again gave the exact same answer.   I asked if Maryrose was in the office today or was she travelling?  “Maryrose will not see you.”

Quickly, I dropped another name, “What about Nik Noel, your Communications guy, I am sure he will want to see me," I asked.   “Mr. Noel is in a meeting, and cannot see you.”  OK, I explained that I would be happy to hang out and wait.  “Mr. Noel has meetings all afternoon and cannot see you.”  I completely understood and offered that perhaps he and I could grab a beer after work.   "Mr. Noel has meetings that will run all afternoon and into the night and then he has a late night flight.”

I handed her my card and told her to please give Maryrose my very best regards. I have not heard back.

My attempted meeting was not a complete failure as it did give me a sense of the type of people they have hired--and laid off.   It is clearly a different generation that is much more interactive—they are in fun, high-tech, pleasing places—as I did not see a cubicle anywhere.

It is interesting that the Boston Business Journal claims Current is on the chopping block. I suspect that it may be, but EdisonReport is unable to confirm that at this time.  My thinking is that they will put it all back together and sell Lighting as a whole.

The Current, by GE current website claims Current had sales of $1.0B in its first year.  That is a pretty good start.  It also shows the following quote, “Energy is part of our legacy, part of our genetic code.  And digital code is part of our future.” That quote is from our rockstar friend, Beth Comstock, Vice Chair of GE, who is no longer Vice Chair of GE.

Perhaps the web designer has already been laid off.