The Quirky World of Executive Blogs
My wife, Peggy, and I regularly shop at Whole Foods. I was interested to note last February that the company was about to acquire a rival, Wild Oats, for $565 million. The story entered my archive and languished.
During this past couple of weeks a story has broken that a long-time blogger—writing under the handle of “Rahodeb”—had been saying very positive things about Whole Foods and roundly dumping on Wild Oats—its management and the value of its stock.
It turned out that “Rahodeb” was an anagram for Deborah, the wife of Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, and that the mystery blogger was Mackey himself.
The FTC got wind of this and filed a complaint alleging that Mackey’s blog may have depressed the stock of Wild Oats, possibly giving him an unfair price advantage on the sale. Mackey is in deep doo-doo.
One of The Wall Street Journal’s many stories that featured Mackey described how CEOs of publicly- and privately-held corporations have become bloggers. Listed were 12 such blogs.
I decided to see what this blue ribbon group of a dozen worthies had to say.
It turns out they comprise (in my opinion) the same mix as we ordinary folks—some serious, some boring, some ego-driven and one certified whack job.*
* whack job: A complete loon-ball. A crazy person. Nut-Job.
The Business of Blogging
Six days ago, The Wall Street Journal announced the 10th anniversary of Weblogs, a term coined by John Barger in January 1997. The following April, programmer Peter Merholz shortened “Weblogs” to “blogs.”
Go to blog central—Technorati.com—and you will discover that it is “Currently tracking 92.6 million blogs and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media,” which I find staggering.
In my files are myriad stories about blogs: Are bloggers legitimate journalists? Plagiarism is rampant in the blogosphere. People get hired and fired because of their blogs. Blogs and free speech, blog ethics, blogs as promotional vehicles, and much more.
Many blogs are by families for family members. Others are made up of the musings of singles, marrieds, adventurers, dreamers or subculture enthusiasts ranging from hobbies to sports to just about anything on Earth, by those eager to have their thoughts circle the globe.
If you are a CEO and have an itch to connect with your customers, prospects, stockholders, employees or the world at large, go for the gold!
But beware, guys like me are lurking in the shadows ready to pick you apart.
What follows are the current leads of the 12 CEO blogs from The Wall Street Journal article with commentary by me.
So as not to weight them unfairly, they are in alphabetical order by the blogger’s last name.
Not included: the blog by “Rahodeb”—or John Mackey of Whole Foods—whose output is being scrutinized, analyzed and nit-picked to death.
Just for the fun of it, I give them star ratings—like a movie reviewer:
* If you have time on your hands...
** You might learn something
*** Important information—a blog worth following
(W) Whack Job
Open Mike—Mike Critelli’s Blog
Every business in America deals with snail mail—incoming and outgoing. At the epicenter of the mail business is Pitney Bowes, maker of the postage meters that are in thousands of offices. When Executive Chairman Mike Critelli speaks, it behooves those of that deal with mail to listen. He is a serious blogger with a serious message. Further, his corporate Web site is a treasury of information on the complex business of mail—far more reader friendly and easy to understand than that of the USPS.
What Consumers Really Want From Marketing Mail, July 12th, 2007
In a previous posting, I talked about how “Do Not Mail” proposals were misguided from an environmental, privacy, and public policy standpoint. But it’s not enough to oppose initiatives that resonate with many well-educated people who generally understand and agree with the value of mail and who intellectually understand why broad-based “Do Not Mail” registries are bad ideas.
Consumers want choice and control over their lives, and they have much more of it than ever. They have multiple entertainment choices regarding what they watch on a TV, including movies they can acquire through the mail and, increasingly, over the Internet. They can screen out e-mails, phone calls, and face-to-face sales professionals.
Blog Maverick—The Mark Cuban Weblog
Mark Cuban is one of the early dot-com billionaires who founded MicroSolutions in 1983, which he sold to CompuServe. He then founded Broadcast.com in 1995 and sold it to Yahoo in 1999 for $5.7 billion. On Jan. 14, 2000, he bought the Dallas Mavericks basketball team. He could use a copy editor.
Remembering Broadcast.com, Jul 15th 2007 10:23PM
It was 8 years ago we went public with what was then the biggest first day jump in stock price in IPO history....
If you didnt know broadcast.com, or dont remember it, we were serving audio and video live and on demand to more than 1mm unique users per day in 1999. I dont even remember how many audio and video files we served per day, without 100mb or 10min limits, encoded up to 700k.
We had full length audio books, full length CDs, full length movies, TV shows. You name it. And unlike today, we actually got licenses for them before they were on our site.
We had preroll commercials. We had inserted commercials. We even inserted video commercials into audio files and streams.
Richard Edelman is CEO of Edelman, one of the world’s leading public relations firms with 2,700 employees in 48 offices worldwide and that billed $299 million in fees in FY 2006. With so many companies botching their PR (e.g., Whole Foods!), Edelman’s is a blog worth checking into regularly.
Two Suitcases, 6:00 A.M. July 11, 2007
I attended a dinner in New York City last night, sponsored by the International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF), a London-based non-governmental organization (disclosure: I am the new chairman of the IBLF in North America) dedicated to the proposition that business is “at the heart of sustainable development.” There were some important observations during the dinner, which may be of use to all of us giving advice on these kinds of issues.
The most remarkable story was told by Mr. K.V. Kamath, the CEO of ICICI Bank, a large Indian financial institution. He said that his bank is pursuing business in rural India by sending out financial executives with two suitcases a marriage of old and new India. The first contains a folding table and two folding chairs. The second has a wireless-enabled PC, a camera and a biometric device that records fingerprint impressions. In this way, the bank is able to offer microfinance to farmers, a direct deposit mechanism for factory workers and credit facilities for small purchases such as food. “We are actually leap-frogging technology—we are using a higher tech approach in the rural areas because it makes sense to do business that way. We cannot afford branch banks there; we create a virtual branch, adjacent to a cell tower.”
Tom Glocer’s Blog, Chief Executive Office, Reuters [BETA]
Reuters was founded in 1851 when Paul Julius Reuter began transmitting stock quotes from London to Paris over the (then) new Calais-Dover Cable. Today, Reuters is a major competitor of the Associated Press, with 2,500 journalists and photographers in 198 bureaus in 150 countries. It transmits more than eight million words a day in 19 languages. His lead did not grab me.
Hi. This is my blog site.
We are all subject to a lot of official communications these days from companies, governments, celebrities and others. All too often these are ghost written passages concocted by overeager PR machines and do little to tell you anything new about the author or his or her true interests.
All the best writing at Reuters gets done by our journalists, so I certainly don’t pretend that I can improve upon the impressive work they produce everyday, often at great personal risk. Instead I’m going to write about what interests me, which is often my work at Reuters, as well as wider issues like technology and media - two areas that I am fascinated by.
From Where I Sit: Musings on My Life, Thomas Nelson & the World of Publishing
Thomas Nelson, in business since 1798, is a publisher of inspirational books. Its president and CEO is Michael S. Hyatt.
A Runners Guide to Knee Pain, Sunday, July 15, 2007
Usually, when I tell people I have taken up running, they respond with some variation of “Gee, isn’t that hard on our knees.” Well, actually, no. At least until recently.
About three weeks ago, I started developing a distinct soreness in my knees. At first, I tried denial. It’s not really that sore, I tried to tell myself. But as I continued to run, the soreness worsened.
Continue reading “A Runners Guide to Knee Pain”
Nick’s Blog: The official weblog of F. Nicholas Jacobs, FACHE—President & CEO of Windber Research Institute and Windber Medical Center
The Windber Medical Center is an 82-bed community-based hospital in Somerset County, PA. According to the Web site, “Windber Research Institute’s primary focus is improving patient care and the quality of life for the patient and their family by rapidly translating molecular and clinical research into action.” Whatever that means. From the Web sites, I get the sense that many of the staff dislocated their shoulders from patting themselves on the back.
“Sicko” Hits a Nerve, Saturday, July 14, 2007
This e-mail arrived this morning from a friend:
“Well, I have been back to the doctor and the surgeon. They can’t put in a stent because my arteries are too small. They want to do compression wraps for seven weeks which should cause new arteries to grow. Well, the co-pay for each treatment is $40 which adds up to $200 a week. The simple answer is that we don’t have the money. I figured out that next year, when I can start collecting social security, a whole $300 a month, I can save up $1400 and have it done then. Of course, it will probably cost more then. I just wanted to keep you updated and thank you for your prayers.”
Running a Hospital: This is a Blog Started by a CEO of a Large Boston Hospital to Share Thoughts about Hospitals, Medicine, and Health Care Issues
Paul Levy is president and CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School in Boston.
Above averages, Saturday, July 17, 2007
As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, guess which of the following stories is true and which is false:
Red Sox slugger David Ortiz has told manager Terry Francona that he will no longer bat against any pitcher who has an ERA below 3.0. Ortiz, furious that his batting average has been made public, said “It just isn’t fair that they include my at-bats against the really hard pitchers. No one is going to think I am good at this game.” Ortiz has said that he will sit out games until the starting pitcher is relieved and replaced by someone less difficult to hit against. “I don’t care if this causes my team to lose,” he was heard to say. “I have a career to think about.” Francona has yet to respond publicly.
OK, you already know that’s not true! Our local hero thrives in taking on the really good pitchers. So, here’s the actual story from SFGate.com.
GM FastLane Blog
A video blog featuring GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz and edited by Alicia Dorset. Click on the site, and you get a couple of YouTube screens showing Bob Lutz (presumably) sitting at a desk, his mouth covered with a small TV screen and a big black arrow. I am a “see” guy who likes to scan print for information important to me. I don’t do YouTube, because I need to control what I see. If you read the copy below, you will find it totally disjointed.
Bob Talks About... Chevy’s Triplets, July 13, 2007
Another video response from Bob, this time talking about Chevy’s Triplets. -Alicia Dorset, blog editor.
Checking Back With Bob, July 12, 2007
Continuing our video series with Bob, today he shares his thoughts on all the questions he receives regarding diesel... -Alicia Dorset, blog editor
Bob Lutz Answers More FastLane Questions, July 5, 2007
By Christopher Barger, Director, GM Global Communications Technology
Ok, so here’s the next installment in the video-answers series — Bob addressing some of your comments on Buick.
If it seems like it’s a little out of order, that’s because it is... like I mentioned in the comments to Friday’s post, we cut the video into four parts and this one was supposed to be first, but when converting it we had an audio/visual sync issue to fix. Rather than delay the whole series till we got it fixed, we decided to just put up the clip that was ready (concept cars), even though it was out of order.
Marriott on the Move
Bill Marriott, 75, is chairman and CEO of Marriott Hotels. He dictates his blog, which is transcribed and put on the Web by an assistant. He is the proprietor of the family of Marriott Hotels and Resorts in 450 locations around the world that includes Courtyards, Residence Inns, Fairfield Inns, The Ritz-Carlton and Marriott Vacation Club International. As a Lou Dobbs regular, I think I have heard every side of every argument on the immigration question. Does Bill Marriott have anything new to add?
Missed Opportunity, July 16, 2007
Here is a quick thought on the recent failure of our Congress to act on immigration reform. I know a little bit about leading, and I’ve always found that leaders make tough decisions. That’s why it’s so disappointing that politics trumped policy. The issue of secure borders and creating a path to citizenship are not going away. Rather than trying to solve the problem, Congress will probably... Continue reading “Missed Opportunity”
David Neeleman’s flight log
David Neeleman, founder and CEO of JetBlue, came under a lot of fire for the total mishandling of a weather emergency last winter that stranded thousands of passengers, many of them on runways for as long as 10 hours. This past May 11, he was replaced as CEO by his Number Two executive, David Barger. Neeleman’s blog has been turned over to C. Montgomery Burns, a fictional character on The Simpsons. This being one of the worst summers on record in terms of airline performance, coupled by a tragic crash in Sao Paulo this past Tuesday where upward of 170 people were killed, quite simply this blog is a whack job.
Hi I’m Montgomery Burns,
Here’s my newest attempt at robbing a man of his livelihood. I have temporarily taken over David Neeleman’s Log as I believe I have more efficient ways to run this airline. I could crush him like an ant.
Dear David Neeleman,
You’ve got it all backwards, Blue Boy. Smithers says you provide DIRECTV and Fox films on all your flights. Moving pictures and talkies on a flying machine… What’s next, a live performance by famed vaudevillian Baby Rose Marie?
As a young businessman in the Great Depression I learned customers are there for our entertainment. Not the other way around. I recommend poking your passengers with a sharpened twig or ridding the beverage carts of ice. It will be quite the hootenanny watching those sad saps drink their soda pop at room temperature.
If you’re using DIRECTV to distract the passengers while committing thievery, I respect your racket. But knowing you, Neeleman, you probably hand out shillings with every bemusement.
I must go now as Smithers has prepared my colon cleansing.
C. Montgomery Burns
Dear Mr. Neeleman,
Smithers entered my chambers this morning, toting wretched tales of congenial customer service and overly indulgent amenities on your JetBlue Airways. And for what… your precious passengers? Soon, the riff raff will demand ‘fair treatment’ from all corporate overlords, like myself. Well, not in my chemically prolonged life-time.
I had Smithers hack your interwebular chronicle so I may set you straight, because lately, David Neeleman, your business practices really chafe my bed sores. I believe customers have the right to keep quiet as I pluck every penny from their upturned pockets, but you insist on charging honest fares AND offering free TV and unlimited snacks. Mind your profit margins, man. Your rates make a mockery of the corporate greed our great confederacy was built upon. Who taught you to be a robber baron? Mother Teresa?
This won’t be your last public lashing, Mr. Neeleman. Oh no. I have many more brittle bones to pick with you.
C. Montgomery Burns
Hot Points with Bob Parsons: A blog by Bob Parsons, CEO & Founder of GoDaddy.com
GoDaddy.com is in the domain registration and transfer business and a competitor of Network Solutions. An illustration below shows the letterhead of Bob Parsons’ blog, depicting Parsons with an earring, a motorcycle, two bimbos and a Hummer. If you like travel pictures, here are some nice ones.
Adopting babies in Namibia & selling them on eBay? Happy 4th of July!, Tuesday, July 3. 2007
I’m back. I set foot back into the United States on Sunday at about 11 am. I spent the past 24 days or so on safari deep in the Botswana Bush.
To give you some idea – a very small idea — of the bush there, here is a brief video I took during a confrontation with an elephant bull. To see the video, please click here.
Here’s another small video — please click here to see it — where a friend and I, were approached by an aggressive elephant bull. I’ll tell you during my next article what ultimately happened here.
Finally here’s one of the more amusing photos I snapped, showing elephant bulls at a local watering hole, intrigued by a couple of warthogs — playing leapfrog.
Jonathan Schwartz is CEO and president of Sun Microsystems Inc., a large computer and software company.
The Internet vs. Stone Tablets
This past week, an American chief executive admitted to having posted over 1,000 comments under an assumed name in a stock market chat room. The chat room focused on a competitor he’s seeking to acquire.
The aforementioned CEO has a blog. Which one reporter saw as linking us when she left me a voicemail, “As another CEO who writes a blog, I was wondering if you could comment on the situation.”
What? I bet he wears shoes, too, but that doesn’t mean I have any more insight in to his actions than those who go barefoot.
- Alicia Dorset
- Bill Marriott
- Bob Lutz Answers More FastLane Questions
- Calais-Dover Cable
- Dear David Neeleman
- Dick Edelman
- John Barger
- John Mackey
- Jonathan Schwartz
- K.V. Kamath
- Michael S. Hyatt
- Mike Mike Critelli
- Nick Jacobs
- Paul Julius Reuter
- Paul Levy
- Peter Merholz
- Richard Edelman
- Tom Glocer