Bonum Certa Men Certa

Overt Nepotism at Sirius: A Fish Rots From the Head Down

Sirius Office - obscured

Summary: Sirius 'Open Source' has had a severe case of nepotism (yesterday we covered several examples, including a manager who had brought to the company 3 romantic partners who lacked suitable qualifications/experience); today we look at the CEO and his ex-wife

FOR THOSE just joining us, 24 hours ago we wrote about the impact of hiring based on connections. The former wife of one manager pasted like 20+ lines of text into the command line of a client's very important Glassfish server (with information about other clients in that text). The client, a large energy supplier, wasn't amused. It could easily recognise what had happened. It could also see it was the spouse of someone, who moreover lacked background in computing.

Nepotism is a very big problem. It puts in technical positions people who otherwise would never occupy such positions.

"Nepotism is a very big problem. It puts in technical positions people who otherwise would never occupy such positions."Today we wish to highlight, as a case apart so to speak (because it's a lot longer), the CEO's own story. We'll stick to known facts and admit where there's a knowledge gap because we would rather not guess (wrong assumptions and a hyperbole would just muddy the water).

Here is what the ex-wife of the CEO says about herself:

2008 joining Sirius

Notice that Sirius 'Open Source' also says "Free software" (she joined the company just after Sirius was sponsoring the Free Software Foundation). Back then the company was still a lot better; the above profile hasn't been updated in years.

"The 'founder' of Sirius was running the company with his wife for about 7 years since I joined."I joined the company 12 years ago, i.e. some time after she had joined the company, apparently with some experience managing a store (for a large British chain; they have lots of stores nationwide). So there's a period of time when I was absent and can only understand based on chats with former colleagues. The 'founder' of Sirius was running the company with his wife for about 7 years since I joined. But actually, it's a little trickier than this; he was getting married when I joined, marrying a manager in the company whom he had already had a child with (she was also about 17 years younger than him). Here is a message he sent me when (or before) I joined the company:

Hi Roy,

I wish you'd asked a few weeks ago - we've just finished our first graduate recruitment for interns/full-timers! I'm sure we'll be recruiting again soon, so let's stay in touch... although today was my last day at Sirius for a while as I'm getting married on Saturday then off on honeymoon for a couple of weeks...

In the meantime - would you consider maybe doing some part-time contract work with us? could I get one of my engineers to call you for a chat?

All the best,


This is 2010:

> -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE----- > Hash: SHA1 > > Hi xxxx! > > As you probably know, I have been spending my post-doc time mostly > promoting FOSS, which was a personal choice of mine (advancing this > cause by spreading the word). If you have any job openings at Sirius, > can you please let me know? I'd be very interested. > > - -- > ~~ Best of wishes > > Dr. Roy S. Schestowitz > | GNU/Linux | PGP-Key: 0x74572E8E > Editor @ > -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE----- > Version: GnuPG v1.4.10 (GNU/Linux) > > iEYEARECAAYFAkwiWTEACgkQU4xAY3RXLo522ACglZPcccD/SMKp0YqesMFP0Ep6 > tEsAnjU8Qm2o1b3aW7NO8GhfogqJ5Tzj > =iU4L > -----END PGP SIGNATURE-----

He responded:

Expect a call from xxxx - he's very cool and completely of tge [sic] party - ex-Debian developer...

Speak when I get back.

Best, xxxxx

Then myself (still 2010)

> Sure, that sounds great. > > I'm generally in no hurry and I can relocate immediately. My phone > number is xxxxxxxx. > > - -- > ~~ Best of wishes > > Dr. Roy S. Schestowitz > | GNU/Linux | PGP-Key: 0x74572E8E > Editor @ > -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE----- > Version: GnuPG v1.4.10 (GNU/Linux) > > iEYEARECAAYFAkwjrwAACgkQU4xAY3RXLo5XpQCeJsvAZST1qLukJRewQPxZO17v > 25kAni1MHnbreEaUKG4VN6rUQ0x1oYMr > =X+4R > -----END PGP SIGNATURE-----

The key part here is, he was getting married in 2010 to the lady whom he (one can assume) hired 2 years prior. For some background, years before she was hired he phoned me, trying to recruit me while I was still a post-graduate student. I didn't expect to have to apply for a job and do a "proper" job interview because he was already aware of my work/writings online. He appreciated it.

Regarding the wedding he wrote:

Hi Roy,

> -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE----- > Hash: SHA1 > > Congratulations on the wedding!

Thank you! It was a great day and I had a very nice couple of weeks away in Sicily and Rome...

> It has been a long time since I last heard from you guy and I did not > receive a call/E-mail. Would appreciate knowing what's going on... :-)

Oops, looks like something fell between the cracks! xxxxx is off today, but back in on Monday and I'm sure he'll give you a call...

Hope all is well with you, and speak soon...


When I joined the company in early 2011 I met the wife in person and learned a little more about what had happened and who she was. Workers in the office, who witnessed a lot of things and had direct face-to-face interactions every day, said the wife was controlling the husband (CEO). Some did not like her, but my experience with her was a mixed bag, partly positive. She was a lot better than some of the 'managers' we've had in recent years. I don't recall her ever lying to us or bullying any of us.

"I don't recall her ever lying to us or bullying any of us."So regarding the nepotism, what we know is that a person who was a manager at the company was marrying the so-called 'founder' (scare quotes as it's likely a false credential). I do not know the full chronology of the relationship or her career path, but it seems likely that the marital relationship and having born a child played a role. Being the spouse of a 'founder' (or in a relationship) may mean becoming a manager irrespective of skills and experience. At best, maybe a manager was hired and then fell in love with the 'founder', culminating in matrimony in 2010 (and a child prior to that). Well, maybe too late for me to properly understand the chronology of it, but that smacked of nepotism already. Some members of staff did not like that as it was perceived to be somewhat inappropriate. When the CEO's wife has a dispute with you and this escalates to the CEO, whose side will he take? More so if, according to office insiders, the wife controls the husband....

"...if your line manager or direct supervisor is the spouse of the CEO, do not expect grievances to be professionally handled."The CEO's wife worked with my wife on handling tickets. She trusted her, gave her a chance, and was usually grateful for her hard work. My wife has mostly fond memories of her. She even sent her a sweater as a gift at one point. To me, personally, she sent a "Star of the Week" award (10-pound voucher) as an experiment of providing incentives, urging staff to go the extra mile. As another form of recognition I was sent a 5-year anniversary "certificate" from the company (we'd take a photo of this 5-year anniversary item, but it's laminated and would be difficult to photograph). On the downside, these things were not a promotion or a payrise or even a bonus. Hence, that would entail no motivation or morale boost, it would be mostly symbolic. We previously explained why workers lacked an incentive to improve; managers were not even using their work when they decided to go/walk the 'extra mile', as it was all about protecting "territory"; any company that is failing to grow or reward people for extra effort doesn't have a future because colleagues would sooner or later head for the door (exit).

In summary, the nepotism remains somewhat unclear or shrouded in mystery because I arrived 2-3 years late (years after the soon-to-be-wife of the CEO actually joined). But as noted above, if your line manager or direct supervisor is the spouse of the CEO, do not expect grievances to be professionally handled.

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