Given the events of the last 12 months, I started to become curious: would some of the "Mike Alden got played!" sentiment be as prevalent if these circumstances were framed in the context of other businesses? While these are perfect metaphors by no means (there's clearly a level of nuance and detail that can't accurately be portrayed), I hope they at least provide a different way of analyzing recent events.
Scenario 1: Your firm has been part of a fairly new holding company for just shy of a few decades. Though the holding company has been largely successful, rumors are rampant that your company could be bought/absorbed by a different holding company. It's no secret your firm would like to be absorbed by the new company, but for obvious reasons, it would not be particularly prudent to say so publicly. However, business analysts incessantly talk about your firm's desire to be with that company. Your firm maintains that it is committed to the success of the current company despite the persistent rumors of your firm's desire to leave. The holding company eventually absorbs a different firm from your holding company. Did your firm get played?
Scenario 2: Your firm is put in a situation where it needs to bid for another company's services. Though that company has been largely successful in providing services for its current client (the service is exclusive), word gets out that the company is somewhat unhappy with its current arrangement, despite the fact that the company and the firm have a relationship that dates back prior to them ever entering into a contract. Though you and the other firm are largely interchangeable to most business minds, you begin putting together a new business proposal attempting to blow away this company in the hopes of pulling it away from the other firm. For whatever reason, this attempt to secure its services plays out in the public eye, though the company is extremely adept at playing things close to the vest. Business analysts finally report that the original firm has been dangerously frugal and that your firm's willingness to spend is a tremendous asset, eventually leading them to hear from those close to the company that it will be moving its services. However, the old firm finally puts together a reasonable offer and emphasizes their old relationship, eventually being able to retain the company's services. Did your firm get played?
Scenario 3: Your firm has had exclusive rights to a service provided by a certain company for the last several years. Despite solid results from the service, your investors are getting somewhat annoyed by the business tactics employed by this company. Each year, demand from other firms eventually results in your firm having to increase its bid to retain this company's services. Despite these annual negotiations and a slight dip in yearly performance this past year, your investors would generally like to keep this company on board. However, as feared by everyone in your business, another firm enters the picture hoping to bid for exclusive rights to the service. Even worse, it's a firm that the company was previously in business with for nearly two decades. Most investors see the bid from the new firm as nothing more than more negotiating leverage, but eventually, that old relationship proves to be enough for the company to elect to take its services to the new firm. Did your firm get played?