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Workers' Prime Day Strike Could Pose a Problem for Amazon
July 9, 2019
Amazon workers at a Minnesota, fulfillment center plan to strike for six hours on July 15, the first day of Amazon's Prime Day sales event. The strike threat reportedly is linked to unsafe working conditions at Amazon's warehouses, caused by low wages and pressure to meet shipping demands. Union officials also want a larger portion of temporary warehouse workers converted to full-time employees.
Cisco's Take on Making the World a Better Place
June 17, 2019
I attended Cisco Live last week, and one of the things that impressed me was how many amazing things the company has been doing that have nothing to do with products, services or revenue. Most companies have a philanthropic budget and donate, but they don't really seem to care if the money makes a difference. For most, philanthropy is more about uplifting their image than making a difference.
Trailhead, Salesforce's Not-So-Secret Weapon
June 4, 2019
Salesforce has used its Trailhead learning system to teach developers how to program on its Lightning platform for more than five years. The company last week completed its fourth highly successful TrailheaDX conference, which attracted 14,000 people to the Moscone Center in San Francisco. There are plenty of good reasons for Salesforce to be in the software-coding-education game.
AMD Slam-Dunks Intel at Computex and It's a Good Thing
June 3, 2019
Like a lot of folks, I'm a tad sick of Intel. Last month we learned of its second big security scandal in as many years. Once again, the company not only neglected to disclose the problems in a timely way but also lacked a plan to recall the failed parts. Once again, buyers likely will have to cripple their Intel processors if they want to use them safely.
Where CEOs Go Wrong With Brand ID
May 24, 2019
Brand ID is key to every company's success and growth. Why then do so many senior executives at so many different companies screw it up? When you come up with a winning brand ID, it's OK to build on it and to change it for the better, but not for the worse. Customers buy from you based on your brand ID. If that changes, then customers may change their buying habits as well.
Is Nvidia Tesla's Kryptonite?
April 29, 2019
Tesla sure didn't have a good week last week, given the kind of press coverage it got. I'm not that worried about Tesla going away, though, as its products are far too popular for it to disappear. On the other hand, management clearly needs to be fixed. What got me started looking at Tesla last week was that it pretty much announced that Nvidia was its Kryptonite.
Following Protests, Google Cuts Temps, Vendors, Contractors a Fairer Deal
April 4, 2019
Google has unveiled new minimum standards for temps, vendors and contractors in the United States, in response to demands from an employee coalition that included full-time Google staffers as well as temporary workers and contractors. "Yesterday, we shared an update on some new initiatives to support our extended U.S. workforce," Google spokesperson Jenn Kaiser said Wednesday.
Apple's Path to Destruction
April 1, 2019
One of the things I mention very infrequently is that I was groomed to be a CEO from a very early age. My educational background and two programs at IBM gave me a unique view of what kills a company. One of the big company killers -- and Chrysler before Lee Iacocca is a leading example -- is excess product breadth. That is what we just saw from Apple last week.
Why Intel Is in Such Horrid Condition
January 28, 2019
Intel released earnings last week. It beat expectations on the bottom line, but it missed big on the top line and the outlook was dismal. Looking under the covers, the company is a mess. The expected CEO announcement didn't occur. AMD's earnings are expected to be very strong, and AMD just made some organizational changes that suggest an increase in its competitive attack.
Is Facebook's Five-Point Fix-It Plan Enough?
January 22, 2019
Many faithful Facebook users had the rug pulled out from under them during the last year. Both Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg appeared before the U.S. Congress and spilled the beans on how the company had betrayed its members. I don't think the company's leaders realized that Facebook was doing the wrong thing until recently. Now they have a five-point fix-it-plan. Will it work?
IBM Chief Sounds Cautionary Note on Deep Data, AI, Quantum Computing
January 9, 2019
Powerful technologies like deep data, AI and quantum computing should be introduced into society carefully, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty declared in opening remarks at CES. "These tools are so powerful they will solve some of the most enduring problems -- like food safety, waste," she said, "but like all powerful tools, we've got to usher them in safely into society."
2018: The Year of Fighting for Positive Change
December 24, 2018
When I think of corporate responsibility, one company tends to float to the top, and that is Cisco. With massive efforts to train people all over the world in the critical networking skills needed to secure and expand global communications, Cisco has been taking a major chunk out of joblessness. It has invested millions to reduce homelessness near its headquarters, for example.
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.
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