Tag Archives: corporate governance

Another Silicon Valley Reckoning Is Coming: “Star Entrepreneurs” and Way Too Much Money


Another Silicon Valley reckoning is on the horizon.  We have seen cyclical events like this before, the 2001 bubble burst being the most recent memorable reckoning. The talk in 2001 was about too much “dumb money.” The coming reckoning, however, is on a massive, unprecedented scale, fueled by the same excess of global capital that has fueled the bubbles in housing markets in attractive locations around the World. The problems with Uber, Travis Kalanick, and the now obvious difficulty of the Uber Board of Directors to exercise meaningful governance should have been the “canary in the coal mine.” CNBC’s reporting on the excessive Silicon Valley “unicorn” valuations and media reports that New Enterprise Associates would divest $1 Billion in startup investments that cannot be made liquid have made the situation blatantly obvious. After a long silence, the Wall Street Journal has finally joined the reporting on the crisis. What more does one need to take to the exit?

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Uber’s Aggressive, Unrestrained Culture Destroys It’s Own Goals


UPDATE: KALANICK VIDEO SURFACES. Suffice to say, people are angry with Uber, and things aren’t getting better. This is actually deja vu all over again. We have seen this before in Silicon Valley. The hubris of a company founders or founders creates an ugly overly aggressive and unrestrained culture in its employees and before long things begin to unravel. This has been quietly observed at Uber for some time, and can be gleaned by its own actions as reported in the press. Now, new self-inflicted cracks are appearing. More than 200,000 people have deleted the UBER app off their smart phones in the past month. After former employee Susan Fowler Rigetti published a detailed blog post about the sexual harassment and discrimination she allegedly experienced at the company, people began deleting the ride sharing-app again. As more and more employees have spoken out about the alleged poor working conditions, Uber’s customer base is dwindling … and the company is getting desperate.

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Canadian Startup Case Study Underscores Canada’s VC Challenges


UPDATE: It is worth noting that this 2012 case study on a company in British Columbia, Mobile Data International, and its CEO Barclay Isherwood, attracted the ire of followers of Werner Erhard, prominent San Francisco New Age cult leader, with similarities to L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology.  It is a lens into New Age cults at that […]

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The Rules of Sewage


This is a metaphorical essay on personal ethics, worthy of a serious read and contemplation. When I saw the title I was intrigued but suspected it had something to do with Andy Grove’s adage, “sewage flows downhill,” which means “if anything bad happens it will eventually flow down to you.” This is about ethics. The points made here are particularly apt in light of the huge number and sheer scale of recent business frauds: the Volkswagen fraud, LIBOR, Lehman Brothers, Bernie Madoff’s pyramid scheme, Conrad Black in Canada, Olympus in Japan, Bernie Ebbers and Worldcom, Tyco International, stretching back all the way to Enron, Michael Milken’s junk bonds, and the 1980’s savings & loan debacle.

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Four KPMG Senior Execs Arrested on Tax Evasion Charges


Four senior executives from the Belfast office of international accountancy firm KPMG have been arrested on tax evasion charges. KPMG acknowledged in a press release that four of its top executives in Northern Ireland were arrested Wednesday.

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UBS Back In The News: Tax Evasion Scheme, LIBOR, and Arbitrage Fraud


UBS has confirmed it is being investigated by US authorities into whether it helped Americans evade taxes through investments banned in the US. The Swiss bank said US regulators were investigating potential sales of so called “bearer bonds”. These bonds can be transferred without registering ownership, enabling wealthy clients to potentially hide assets. The fresh investigation by the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and from the US Securities and Exchange Commission comes after UBS paid $780m (£512m) in 2009 to settle a separate Justice Department tax-evasion probe.

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“Culture of arrogance” felled Nortel, anti-climactic Ottawa U study concludes. Was RIM any different?


This is another on my series on industry analysis. The recent University of Ottawa study on the demise of Nortel Networks, tells us what many of us already knew. The most important constructive criticism of this study is that it should have been done years ago. The Nortel collapse was followed by a surprisingly similar scenario at RIM, now Blackberry. Mike Lazaridis, who served as RIM’s co-CEO along with Jim Balsillie until January, 2012, are generally considered to have failed to respond adequately to the market encroachments of Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android phones, as Blackberry’s market share plummeted. I recently showed my undergrad and graduate strategy students a video of a Charlie Rose interview with John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems. Chambers emphasized the acceleration of the Adizes corporate life cycle, in many cases to less than ten years, and the need for constant reinvention to survive in this challenging and rapidly changingnew world.

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Strategy: Growth At What Cost?


I have offered my own Management Strategy and Entrepreneurship students my views on growth, from my career experience. My personal rule of thumb is that the ceiling for manageable growth of an established company is 25% per year. First or second year exponential growth rates do not apply here, and will quickly settle down.  Growth […]

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PBS Frontline: The Untouchables…Corporate Crooks Too Big To Jail


PBS Frontline’s January 22nd broadcast will expose “The Untouchables,” the blatant criminal frauds perpetrated against us and the glaring lack of criminal prosecutions. Watch it.

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Corporate Fines Are Nothing More Than Tax Deductions


In yet another sign that applying monetary fines to corporations is nothing more than adding a “cost of doing business,” The New York Times reported Saturday that corporations routinely, not only pass on the cost of heavy regulatory fines to their shareholders and to consumers, they also write off the fines as corporate tax deductions. […]

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