Friday, February 26, 2010

Al Gore and the stockholders 

Drudge is linking, in italics, to the story of Al Gore at the Apple Computer annual meeting of stockholders.

The presence of one of the world's pre-eminent environmentalists at Apple's shareholder meeting Thursday was the subject of much of the morning's pointed discussion.

As expected, Apple's attitude on environmental and sustainability issues was one of the main concerns of the stockholders present Thursday, followed closely by the company's immense pile of cash. But early harsh comments about former Vice President Al Gore's record set the tone.

And so on.

There is a lesson in here, but it has nothing to do with my longstanding dislike of Al Gore. Rather, it is that it is almost always a self-indulgent mistake for public companies to nominate and elect politicians and other celebrities to their boards. It is a mistake because politicians and celebrities are almost never actually qualified to sit on corporate boards, an increasingly difficult and technical job that requires not only good judgment in general, but experience in running a business. One is forced to wonder how Al Gore could add meaningful value to the Apple board, at least compared to anybody who has actually been the CEO or CFO of a complex international consumer business. And it is self-indulgent because the main reason CEOs and boards nominate celebrity directors is so that the management and incumbent directors can hang with them. Celebrity directors are a perquisite for the dudes on the inside who go to board meetings, and often a costly one at that. Run from any company that has one.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Feb 27, 01:47:00 AM:

I was at the meeting. The presence of Gore was not a big deal. Out of the entire 2hr meeting, much of which consisted of shareholders praising Jobs and telling Apple what to do, the only things that involved Gore were:

Some guy said he was wrong about global warming and should not be on the board.

Some other guy defended him.

Some guy who proposed the sustainability proposal wanted Gore to comment. He was denied.

Some other Gore fanboy, in his ebullient praise, got the name of his movie wrong, an Inconceivable Truth.

Gore didn't say a single thing (he wasn't supposed to anyway)

I decided that it was better to have Gore on the board for two reasons. One is that the target Apple demographic loves him. Second, he is not actually able to enact any of his policies to ruin the company, unlike if he were the POTUS.  

By Blogger Peter, at Sat Feb 27, 03:17:00 AM:

It's their business if they want to target the demographic that loves them some Algore, I'm quite happy doing business with other companies To Hell with Owlgore and to Hell with Apple.

So, we aren't important, we just have two computers plus a laptop and a phone or two. No Apples. Having that fraud on their board meant that I did not consider that outfit when it came time to replace both computers.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Sat Feb 27, 06:49:00 AM:

In this rare case, I am neither picking on Gore, per se, nor Apple. I am just making the point that celebrity directors (and this can include such people as superstar academics -- anybody whose name is more important than their actual skills) are probably weak contributors as actual directors and always carry the potential for controversy and eve scandal. Woe to the company that decided to put John Edwards on their board, for example. And, yes, I am sure Gore appeals to the Apple demographic, but you could get that same linkage without giving him a board seat.  

By Anonymous Opinionated Vogon, at Sat Feb 27, 07:33:00 AM:

Tigerhawk, you said:

One is forced to wonder how Al Gore could add meaningful value to the Apple board...

Gore's utility is in being a deflector shield from the environazis. Prior to Gore's addition to the board Apple was voted the least green computer company. Gore allowed them time to addres their "green" score by offering Apple green figurehead.

Here is an article from a few years ago which displays Apple's problem with the leftist busibodies: http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/fast-company-staff/fast-company-blog/apple-green-core  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Sat Feb 27, 08:32:00 AM:

Gore is a charlatan. There are quite a few mainstream "greens" out there who are smart and sincere. I may not agree with everything that they say, especially when they wax political, but for people who look at the composition of a company's board, they would have a heck of a lot more credibility.

It tells me more about the board as a whole that they would consider him a valuable asset.

(I'm not a Mac person...but only because it would be too much trouble to change over my studio software. They make good hardware...and I really don't give a rip if it's blue, green or plaid!)  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Feb 27, 11:12:00 AM:

I have to disagree with the other Anonymous. Changing the name of algore's movie to "an Inconceivable truth" fits. My Webster's says "inconceivable means not capable of being conceived in the mind. When these these junk scientist say that this past January was the warmest January on recordpitions.....  

By Anonymous Mr. Ed, at Sat Feb 27, 12:27:00 PM:

The point about celebrity board members is one I agree with, but do not boards have different significance in different companies? On paper their duties may be the same, but the balance of power between management and the BOD is not the same for all companies. Some companies have strong boards. Not so much in Apple's case. Apple management is really in the driver's seat.

And, they probably will be for a long time because they have made the company incredibly successful.

Al Gore is immaterial. As a stockholder, I can't even warm up to worrying about him.


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