Is it time for activist boards to take a hand at Microsoft, Yahoo and Cisco? Holman W. Jenkins, Jr critiques the performance of key tech CEOs. In the early 90s, the economy was emerging from recession and GM’s late Bob Stempel was the first of a series of big-name CEOs overthrown by activist boards at companies that seemed unable to get in gear. “These revolts weren’t seen as disconnected episodes at the time. They were hailed as evidence that boards of directors had finally begun to do their job, taking charge of companies whose drift was beginning to verge on catastrophe.”
What’s the Big Idea?
“And now for the historical parallel: In place of Stempel of GM, Akers of IBM, and Robinson of American Express, should we today be thinking of Ballmer of Microsoft, Bartz and Yang of Yahoo, and Chambers of Cisco?,” asks Jenkins. “In this column on business idiots, we have not encountered a single idiot. We have encountered companies that have come, or may have come, to that point where an outsider is required to do what an insider realistically can’t be expected to do.” He says that’s namely to take a meat axe to departments and colleagues with whom they have shared a life.