Friday, September 18, 2015

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld is becoming visible

What great good luck for you readers.  Five days ago (last Monday), I posted a gibe at Jeffrey Sonnenfeld for his misguided attack on Carly Fiorina's stats as HP's CEO.  Wednesday night on the Republican dias, his name came up from Donald Trump, trumpeting Sonnenfeld's claim that she was in the top twenty of worst CEOs in American history.  In fact, Sonnenfeld's August article said, "THE WORST."

Carly's rebuttal in the Republican debate was spirited, and accurate, re the numbers and the meltdown.  The key phrase for Sonnenfeld in his article was that she 'destroyed shareholder value 52% while the S and P 500 only went down 15%--ergo, she's terrible.  In the article, he didn't mention her persona or looks.

So, tonight, Lawrenece O'Donnell brought Sonnenfeld onto his show, showed the clip from Wednesday night with Donald and Carly, and asked him to give "the truth"

Here's the clip in case you missed it

What we got was a strange sideways lurch--maybe he read my post in the meantime?  He repeated his S and P 500 story, but changed it from 15% down to a mere 7% down over the 2000-2005 period.  He repeated the shibboleth that the Compaq deal was DISASTROUS, and so was the DIGITAL deal, and repeated that she dropped HP stock value by more than half.

This time he took her comments apart, saying she "selectively picks a couple of companies--Cisco and Intel--and rests her case on those."  He goes on to say, she should compare her work with Dell, Apple (which tripled 3x in that period, he avers)  or Xerox.  That she cobbled together worthless pieces of cast-off companies and doubled the size of HP, but it was all valueless, and "she came out wealthy while her shareholders came out poorer."

This guy is pedigreed, a major professor.  Read his Yale bio:

his work is regularly cited by the general media in such outlets as: BusinessWeekFortuneForbes, the Wall Street Journal, the New York TimesNewsweekTime, the Economist, the Financial Times, the Washington Post, CBS (60 Minutes), NBC (The Today Show), ABC (NightlineGood Morning America), CNN, and Fox News, as well as PBS, where he is a regular commentator, and CNBC, where he is a regular commentator. BusinessWeek listed Sonnenfeld as one of the world’s 10 most influential business school professors and Directorship magazine has listed him among the 100 most influential figures in corporate governance. He is the first academician to have rung the opening bells of both the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq Stock Exchange.

This guy is a hotshot in other words.  He's published eight books, most on corporate leadership.  He's "the real deal."  

He is also loose with facts, arrogant, and WRONG in this case.  What a travesty to have him commenting.  Fortune, Business Week, and today's Business Insider should be more careful, but my experience with the East Coast press is that they are pretty East Coast focused.  

The next few posts will examine the facts from MY POINT of VIEW, not SONNENFELD's.

And they're based on publicly available records, like annual reports, interviews of people from the day as reported in our Stanford Business School book, THE HP PHENOMENON (2009), and stock market records.

They will show, I believe, that Sonnenfeld is NOT CREDIBLE with his claims, and is a smooth glib journalist pretending to be an objective Yale business leadership professor.  Unfortunately, he is getting major airtime.

No comments: