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Let's Create a TV Show to Fix Silicon Valley
November 12, 2018
Startups have been creating employee hell in Silicon Valley. That was on my mind as I read the book Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us. I think this book should be required reading for anybody who thinks working for a startup in Silicon Valley would be fun. Unless you are into humiliation and abuse you probably should avoid these startups like the plague.
Crisis in Tech: Who Can Save Companies When Execs Go Off the Rails?
October 29, 2018
"Too many digital leaders have lost their minds," Kara Swisher recently wrote, citing some frightening examples of poor leadership. She pointed to the solution adopted by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who hired a chief ethical officer -- but I think that would just repeat the mistake we made with chief risk officers around a decade ago. The risk managers had responsibility but no real authority.
Women as CEOs: The Problems and the Promise
September 24, 2018
I've followed several female CEOs over the years. Most failed, largely because they were both unqualified for the job and their boards didn't back them up. In several cases, the board and the CEO seemed to be in conflict, or the board failed to act. That has created the impression that female CEOs are a bad bet. However, I believe the real problem is that boards haven't been doing their jobs.
Oracle's Earnings Angst
September 22, 2018
OK, this is looking somewhat predictable. Oracle reported $9.20 billion in Q1 revenue, or $0.03 per share, against consensus estimates in the $9.24 to $9.29 range. In other words, it missed its number. How concerning is this? Excuse me while I yawn. It's important all right, but no reason to get crazy. Still, some representatives of the widows and orphans who own the stock went into a tizzy.
Oracle's Bad Boy Image
August 21, 2018
No one at Oracle will ever be nominated for sainthood, and that's probably OK with them. Over the years the company has developed a bad boy image that in some cases is richly deserved, while in others it has been embellished by events. Much derives from the brash doings of founder and longtime CEO (now CTO) Larry Ellison, who may be a charter member of the "never explain, never complain" club.
The Weird Mistakes Killing Tesla
August 13, 2018
Tesla is trending to fail spectacularly. It has been burning cash at an unsustainable rate, and it keeps making avoidable mistakes that weaken it. Here's what is weird: You'd think the firm's biggest problem would be that every large car maker was working behind the scenes to kill it. However, the car companies for the most part appear to have worked harder to emulate Tesla than to destroy it.
Block to Be Salesforce Co-CEO With Benioff
August 8, 2018
There are many interpretations of Salesforce's elevation of Keith Block to serve as co-CEO with Marc Benioff. Block has been the company's vice chairman and president for several years, and the elevation could be a recognition of the obvious -- he's been doing the job without the title for a while. However, Salesforce and Benioff are well known for getting added mileage from any move they make.
CEO Ousters: Is Elon Musk Next?
July 23, 2018
For pretty much my entire career, CEOs have been almost invulnerable. Even when Apple founder Steve Jobs tried to get then-CEO John Scully fired from Apple, he lost and got fired himself. I've watched CEOs at companies with zero-tolerance employee dating policies have affairs with subordinates and get a pass. Things have changed. Almost every week, another CEO bites the dust for misbehavior.
Intel's 'CEO Problem' Is Its Board
July 2, 2018
Tech companies have been going through a lot of CEOs of late. HP had a revolving door for CEOs with mistake after mistake. Yahoo's board kept making choices that made things worse, Uber's CEO almost took the company under, and CEOs fired for ethical lapses jumped a whopping 36 percent. When an employee misbehaves and has to be fired, it generally is at least partially the fault of management.
Cisco, Dell, and the Race to Make a Better World
June 18, 2018
To say we live in troubled times would be an understatement. It often feels like the politicians and executives who surround us are interested only in who can tell the biggest whopper while lining their own pockets and leaving their constituents and customers to pay the bills. I recently read that the real reason Jon Stewart stepped down from The Daily Show was that he was incredibly angry all the time.
G2 Crowd VP Heather Reed: Go After the Prize
June 9, 2018
"By using gender-neutral terms, we might change people's minds about what jobs they're qualified for and have a chance of getting. Getting rid of gender-biased terms helps level the playing field," said Heather Reed, VP of business development for G2 Crowd. "There are different phrases that we use and don't even think about it," she said, "like 'right-hand man,' or 'manning up,' or 'chatty Kathy.'
Tech Career Checklist: Aggressive Diversity, Cold Cash
May 14, 2018
I've become convinced that too many of us don't prioritize our employment choices properly. What recently drew my attention to this was a conversation I had with Dell's CFO Tom Sweet at Dell Technology World. We were chatting about Dell's problem attracting employees. Because Dell is a private company, few employees get stock or stock options -- they get cash instead. It seems that has put Dell at a disadvantage when competing for top folks.
Women-Owned Firms More Active on Social Nets
March 27, 2018
Small businesses use social media extensively, suggest the results of a recent Clutch survey of 351 U.S. firms with fewer than 500 employees. Overall, 71 percent of the respondents used social media for business purposes, and those affiliated with firms owned by women reported heavier use. "By nature, women tend to be more social," observed Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.
Chaos Threatens Tech Takeover
March 26, 2018
The tech world experienced more insanity last week. We finally got confirmation from AMD that the CTS Labs security report was a tempest in a teapot, but the big question remained unanswered. A self-driving Uber vehicle killed a pedestrian, but we didn't ask the right questions. Facebook admitted that it gave our information to a bad actor, and we forgot what really would wake up Zuckerberg.
Most Companies Have No Idea Where They Are Going
March 5, 2018
Dell recently collaborated with the Institute for the Future -- an interesting think tank largely driven by futurists, which focuses on helping firms ride future waves rather than being killed by them -- on a survey that creates a frightening view of 2030. It could be far closer to Terminator than the utopia we once hoped for. I think more companies should go through a process like this.
The One Man Who Could Save Intel
January 22, 2018
Do boards think CEO is a throwaway job? Considering that boards used to have a ton of ex-CEOs on them, and given the historic bad choices that have badly hurt or destroyed companies, you'd think someone would have developed a decent process to pick a good CEO. You'd think that firms at least would learn from their mistakes. Intel now seems to have the second bad CEO since founder Andy Grove left.
The End of Silicon Valley
January 8, 2018
A recent article on the institutionalized sexual exploitation going on in tech companies is eye-opening. It comes on top of the realization that social media companies like Facebook are destroying the U.S., and former Facebook executives have been dissociating themselves from the company. Further, news recently broke of a big, industry-wide security problem.
Who's More Dangerous - the Sexual Predator or the Enabler?
January 1, 2018
There are three groups of people involved in sexual harassment: the victims; the perpetrators; and those who cover up or enable the perpetrators. Historically, we have put more pressure on the victims -- either forcing them to shut up to protect their jobs and careers, or forcing them out of their jobs, which was totally wrong. There's been a recent move to focus on the perpetrators/predators.
The Return of Industrial Espionage and the Building New Wave of Scandals
December 4, 2017
As powerful men drop like flies due to their inability to resist abusing their authority, it's clear that the problem is widespread. Similarly, it's likely that we'll find the problem of alleged industrial espionage is not limited to Uber. You see, when people misuse authority -- and the sexual harassment problem is a massive misuse of authority -- folks typically don't just misuse it in one area.
Are You Ready for a RoboCEO?
October 5, 2017
Here's a disturbing thought: A RoboCEO powered by artificial intelligence -- possibly based on IBM's Watson -- could be running some companies within the next decade. Not every company will warm to the idea, to be sure, but it's conceivable that the practice could begin. This idea has started to bubble to the surface, with leaders like Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma apparently taking it seriously.
The New iPhones: Apple's Strangely Wrongheaded Pivot
September 18, 2017
It fascinates me that succession from a successful CEO to the chosen successor almost always goes badly. This phenomenon isn't limited to the CEO level -- I've seen highly successful CMOs followed by handpicked successors who also seem to have no clue as to why their predecessor did so well. I think it comes down to a lack of mentoring combined with misconceptions.
As New Turnaround King, Is HP Better Than Apple?
August 28, 2017
HP is the new turnaround king -- but is it better than Apple? IBM was the king of tech in the 1980s, but in the 1990s it was the king of turnarounds, after almost going under but coming back from a negative brand equity, which occurs when folks will pay more for a no-name product than one with a negative brand. Apple, at the end of the 90s, was in much the same shape IBM was at the beginning.
Tech Leaders Urge UN to Ban AI-Based Lethal Weapons
August 23, 2017
A group of the world's top technology leaders have published an open letter urging the United Nations to ban the use of AI in weapons systems, amid growing concerns that autonomous killer robots could wind up taking control. The group of 116 companies, most of which specialize in robotics or AI, argued that its growing use could revolutionize modern warfare in irreversible ways.
What Will Rise From Uber's Ashes?
August 12, 2017
There has been quite a bit of churn in the waters around Uber during the last few years. Now that founder Travis Kalanick is no longer CEO, what does the future look like for the company, workers, drivers, investors and customers? Will Uber continue to grow and lead, or has it seen its best days? Most people connected to the company probably would say the same thing: They want calm but rapid growth.
HP Is Back: Should It Rename Itself Compaq?
July 17, 2017
HP just took over the PC market lead worldwide. You probably don't get how incredible this is, so here's an analogy: It's as if a crooked referee put a bunch of lead on a racer who already was overweight and shuffled him to the back of the pack, but in the end, the guy finished first. You'd seriously want to look under his T-Shirt to see if you'd find Superman's costume.
Trustify President Jennifer Mellon: Diversity Is Good Business
July 8, 2017
"My team has always, from day one, been 70 percent female," said Trustify President Jennifer Mellon. "You know, we're not a flower delivery service -- we're doing private investigation. It's not a space women often lead in, so I'm really proud of that. ... Over 45 percent of my team identified with a protected minority population -- including LGBT, race, ethnic and religious minorities."
The Stupidly Dangerous Politics of Blame
July 3, 2017
I hope that, like me, you are off this long holiday weekend and have a chance to think about the drama that now surrounds the U.S. administration. What I find fascinating isn't that the government is a bit of a mess but that the accidental transparency of this administration is focusing us more on the visibility of the problems rather than on the problems themselves.
Rivals Rev Up as Uber Hits the Skids
June 23, 2017
As Uber reels from the fallout of a sexual harassment scandal that led to this week's ouster of Travis Kalanick and several of his top executives, the company faces twin dilemmas: how to clean up its corporate work environment and restock its executive ranks; and how to maintain credibility with its customer base and core team of street level drivers.
Chastened Uber CEO Takes Leave of Absence to Work on Self-Improvement
June 14, 2017
Uber Technologies CEO Travis Kalanick said he will take a leave of absence, as a company review led by Eric Holder was made public. The review sketches out a plan to make radical changes to diversify Uber in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination. Kalanick accepted responsibility for widespread company problems that led to the investigation.
Uber Ousts Top Deputy as Fate of CEO Kalanick Hangs in Balance
June 13, 2017
Uber Technologies on Monday lost its second-most-important executive in a shakeup stemming from an internal investigation into sexual harassment charges. The changes at the top reportedly could include the temporary loss of Uber's founder and chief executive, Travis Kalanick. Emil Michael -- who served as the company's senior vice president of business and a key lieutenant to Kalanick -- is out.
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How do you feel about the latest challenges to Facebook's reputation?
I think the critics have ulterior motives. I'm a Facebook fan.
I don't like it, but there's no alternative, so I still use Facebook heavily.
I have adjusted my Facebook privacy settings to suit my comfort level.
I only use Facebook casually, and I avoid posting anything very personal.
I check Facebook to see what others post, but I don't post myself.
I never use Facebook.
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