Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Steven Levy weighs in

Steven Levy, one of Silicon Valley's heavyweight authors and observers, had a trenchant article at:

Titled "How Steve Jobs fleeced Carly," it tells the story of HP's abortive attempt to sell iPods and Jobs' glee in abetting the action.  This, more than the financial "Whadda think she did, didn't she kill HP with the Compaq deal?" tells a lot about both Carly and her style.

The style is what few have focused on to date.  Trump of course took on "the face' and CNN pundits took on "the lack of a smile" in the 2nd debate.  "Humorless" according to some; without empathy is the common theme, underscored by the sudden firing and 'marching people to the door' tactics.  Most CEOs are formidable, few are loved if we believe the Glass Door ratings, but very few have the employees break out in song when a dismissal occurs--and the song, "Ding, dong, the witch id dead" hardly gives one enthusiasm for a Fiorina presidency.

I for one have consistently viewed Fiorina's strategic skills as her greatest strength--she alone of the 'big six' (Barrett at Intel, Ballmer at Microsoft, Ellison at Oracle, Chambers at Cisco, McNealy at Sun) called the Dot.Com meltdown--weeks and months in fact before any of the others agreed.  Want dates and statements?  See HP Phenomenon, pp. 445-447; also pp. 422-23.  She was clear-eyed by comparison to virtually all of the other CEOs of the day.

What about Jobs, you ask?  Worth recalling that he'd led his company for five years at this point, while she was two years on the job.   Apple was down 50% in revenue--REVENUE--and profits had turned to ZERO.  Any thought of a resurgent Apple at that point was beyond implausible.  Amazing what a little time can do.

And indeed it was coming out of that meltdown that Jobs took Apple into music, of all things, and that is what Carly sought to piggyback with him, at a time she had dealer shelf space and he didn't.
Read Levy's article from that standpoint, and it explains her hubris a bit better.

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