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back to article Raise a beer: Titans of tech fill out 'Worst CEOs' list

Tech bosses were rapped for drinking beer during conference calls, wearing hoodies in the boardroom and losing huge amounts of money in a round-up of 2012's worst CEOs. The list was compiled by Professor Sydney Finkelstein of the Tuck School of Business at US Ivy League school Dartmouth College. Speaking to Bloomberg TV, Prof …

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I always thought...

...guys who wear hoodies are just afraid that if their leetle ears-ies get cold their mummies will be cross with them.

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Disrespectful to investors

> when it comes to running a multibillion-dollar company, you have to behave a certain way.

Lie, cheat, steal, and run your company into the ground while making out like a bandit? Is that what he means, perhaps?

I could see Zuck getting a mention for the Facebook IPO fiasco, but to criticise him because of his clothing? That's a pretty weak and shallow criticism, even for a "top 10" list. I would hope any serious investor would be able to see past any frippery, to judge the actual business they invest in. Personally, I'd rather invest my money in hoodie-adorned Zuck's Facebook than suited-and-booted Elop's Nokia, for example.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Disrespectful to investors

Indeed. The insistence on men wearing a suit in most work places baffles me. You see women wearing all and sundry in work. Men however are stuck to their dull 19th century costumes. Luckily, ties seem to be losing favour. No idea why ties have remained around whereas the hat disappeared. The hat at least kept your bonce warm whereas ties just seem to strangle you, end up in your food and dangle around uselessly...

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Joke

Re: Disrespectful to investors

"...ties just seem to strangle you, end up in your food and dangle around uselessly..."

There's a joke about ex girlfriends or male genitalia in there somewhere but I can't seem to spot it this morning. Need more coffee.

*insert punchline here*

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WTF?

Re: Disrespectful to investors

I'm not interested in defending Mark Zuckerberg but it's odd isn't it, the very mentality that built Facebook's success - that made investors want to invest - those investors are now saying he shouldn't have.

They seem to be saying, "Well done on fostering a culture that contributes to me making a lot of money. Now please stop doing that and focus on edifying us!"

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Angel

Re: Disrespectful to investors

Irrespective of my opinion of hoodies in general (top post), or Mr Zuck in particular, I have to agree that he can wear whatever he wants if he is running his company legally. Plenty of 'business people' out there should have long ago traded their tie for an orange jump-suit.

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Joke

Re: Ties

We have to wear ties so our bosses have something handy to strangle us with when we screw up...

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Coat

The hoodie was disrespectful to investors, the professor said.

or "suckers" as Zuck calls them!

Mine's the hoody, bitch!

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WTF?

Finkelstein old-fashioned, irrelevant?

I find any Worst CEO of 2012 list that does not include Stephen Elop to be seriously suspect. I mean, doubling down on a losing strategy, while tossing your institutional knowledge overboard, seems like it should be a reason Why Smart Executives Fail.

But castigating Zuckerberg for not wearing a 19th Century period costume is pretty low. Zuckerberg signals that he doesn't care about the traditional finance people. In fact, he doesn't. As long as he has controlling shares, it doesn't really matter what other people think, as long as he doesn't break any laws. If Zuckerberg can reduce his mental burden by wearing a hoodie every day, then he can concentrate his energy on stuff that really matters to his shareholders (especially himself).

On the other hand, what has Sydney Finkelstein done? Trained a bunch of executives? Made friends with the 1%? I require better reasons why I should pay attention to Finkelstein instead of Zuckerberg.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Finkelstein old-fashioned, irrelevant?

> I find any Worst CEO of 2012 list that does not include Stephen Elop to be seriously suspect.

'Seriously suspect' is being kind. 'Unfit for publication' would be more like it.

It's like publishing a list of the World's All Time Greatest Chess Players without including Bobby Fischer.

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Childcatcher

Re: Finkelstein old-fashioned, irrelevant?

It's like publishing a list of the World's All Time Greatest Chess Players without including Bobby Fischer.

He was a communist, you know.

When I read the title I was sure Nokia's supremo must be the undisputed leader, yet he is not even present. 'Unfit for publication' is a good rate.

Icon representing the proper dress code.

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Re: Finkelstein old-fashioned, irrelevant?

Stephen Elop isn't worth mentioning because he has ALWAYS remained a Microsoft exec...

He holds the TITLE of CEO... but he really isn't one.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Finkelstein old-fashioned, irrelevant?

Bobby Fischer used to wear suits.

The reason he chose to wear them was considerably less pleasant,

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Re: Finkelstein old-fashioned, irrelevant?

Hey, don't diss the Fisch! He may have had some wacky ideas about the church but still remains the greatest proponent of the game ever - and helped expose Soviet collusion in rigging world tournaments!

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Only 3rd?

I always thought Pincus would have made number 1 on this least, and by a large margin.

As said he effectively drove Zynga stock prices into the ground, and just from interviews with employees / previous employes the guy is a bully and a crook. But he's lower down on the list than a CEO who sold a failing company because it could no longer compete in the modern market, and slept with his secretary?

It sounds like this guy is putting his own morals before the key facts.

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Pirate

Silly valuations don't come from them

Its the vampire squid and other banktards who, in a coke-fuelled haze, over rate these companies and pump up the valuations. All fees, all the time.

Of course the bubble bursts when they move to another target. Its not that the CEO has destroyed the real value/utility of their company - it was never there to start with.

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Great Groupon quote though...

"I wonder why it's still going," said Finkelstein

As do we all prof, as do we all...

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FAIL

Why not...

just list them? I want to know who they are not read the waffle as to why, we are going to know the why.

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I have to admit, I would do this..

.. Drink beer while on conference calls, or really at any time.

You're the boss, so fuck it, if you've already made a ton of cash from a very dodgy business model, may as well revel in that fact.

I've never used groupon, and I heard it screwed over small businesses with its model, but now I suddenly have respect for the CEO.

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Anonymous Coward

Wan... oops I mean Bankers

Who cares what he wears. Investors need to realise that given an opportunity they will be the ones thrown overboard and their effing suits wont keep them afloat.

I can't stand this backward attitude of suit brigade.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wan... oops I mean Bankers

If I'm going to a meeting as a customer and potential investor I expect someone to be smartly dressed. I don't care if it's only while I'm there, but it shows respect. That level of respect is then engendered into the company.

It's a bit like why airline pilots wear a uniform - it puts them in the mindset of being an airline pilot. I watched the documentary about Iron Maiden recently where Bruce Dickinson flew the whole tour round the world in a converted airliner. When he was "in pilot mode" he was always in a uniform, even when everyone else was in their best jeans and T shirt.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wan... oops I mean Bankers

"in pilot mode" There are good reasons for wearing the uniform apart from the (valid) attitude one. Employees and management at airports often won't take anyone seriously who says they are a pilot but don't look like one. This can have serious hassle factor connotations and waste a lot of time.

(ex commercial/airline pilot in developing countries).

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Facepalm

Re: Wan... oops I mean Bankers

I wear a suit when I visit a customer who wears a suit, dress down when my customer does because they are paying me (indirectly) and I want to work smoothly with them but an investor is a different story, surely the respect you show should be in relation to how much you want their money - if they're willing to capitalise Facebook to the tune of USD45Bilion then how much more do they need him than he needs them? He could probably have come to meetings wearing fluffy bunny slippers and a mickey mouse T-shirt and still had them begging him to let them invest.

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Re: Wan... oops I mean Bankers

My first wife was 'tarded. She's a pilot now.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wan... oops I mean Bankers

@resolver - That's kind of my point - if someone wants me to think that they're the CEO, they'd better act like it (when I'm there, at least). I would have problems with someone wearing a onsie (onesie, onzey?) that I wouldn't with someone wearing a suit.

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I like wearing suits, although the opportunity rarely presents itself.

But people who regularly wear a suit to the office? They're generally untrustworthy wankers, in my opinion, probably more concerned with outward appearance, rather than what is actually going on. A shirt and a tie should suffice.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I like wearing suits, although the opportunity rarely presents itself.

I like wearing a suit to the office, it allows me to get home and take off my "work stuff" and switch into "home mode". It also means that I don't wear out my nice clothes just by working in them.

I'd like to think that I'm a pretty nice person and fairly trustworthy, but then again I would say that, wouldn't I?

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Re: I like wearing suits, although the opportunity rarely presents itself.

> But people who regularly wear a suit to the office?

I find it saves a great deal of time. Time that I would otherwise have to spend establishing my credibility.

A lot (possibly: most) of the meetings I have to present at or contribute to, have decision makers who are not that technical. What I mean by that is they don't know the difference between a gigabyte and their elbow. That doesn't mean they're bad at their jobs, just that their jobs and mine have few intersections: I don't understand their jargon, processes or motivations and they don't understand mine - but we do have a mutual respect for each other's position. However, if you want sign-off or approval for a project, investment or piece of development, you need their nod.

It might not be the best situation, but it's the one we have. Since I'm not in the business of changing the world, you learn to play by its rules.

Now, I can go to the small amount of trouble of pulling a suit, shirt and tie out of the wardrobe - or I can spend the first half hour of a meeting with strangers (whom i may or may not have to build a working relationship with) trying to convince them that I DO know what I'm talking about and that they should listen to what I have to say. If I want their respect, I have to show some of my own - and that means indicating that I've gone to the trouble of taking them seriously and dressing in a way that they expect serious, professional people to present themselves. If it's my "outward appearance" that helps convince them, then so be it - it's a small price to pay for getting what I want. Luckily it seems to be a successful strategy, for all concerned: my career and the business.

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Re: I like wearing suits, although the opportunity rarely presents itself.

So wearing an £x00 suit suddenly makes you credible?

You realise that's not a very clever or practical way to judge actual ability or predict performance?

Does it really not bother you that all it takes to persuade the unknowing that you're a serious professional with decades of experience and a no-nonsense attitude is clothes?

This fact on its own explains why so much corporate process is a temple to idiocy. As Dominic Connor would doubtless point out, it's all about appearance management and the faking of credibility, not reality-based talent and ability.

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Re: I like wearing suits, although the opportunity rarely presents itself.

"I find it saves a great deal of time. Time that I would otherwise have to spend establishing my credibility."

I also find it saves a great deal of time. Time that I would otherwise have to spend choosing what to wear.

Grab random suit. Grab random shirt. Pants+socks. Appropriately dressed for office in 1 minute without having to engage a single braincell. Plenty of pockets for wallets, traintickets, bberry, phone, etc.Surprisingly comfortable (if you get ones which fit you properly).

If you can't get away with wearing the same stuff to the office that you wear when rebuilding the barn, you can do worse than choose a suit.

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Re: I like wearing suits, although the opportunity rarely presents itself.

So wearing an £x00 suit suddenly makes you credible?

You realise that's not a very clever or practical way to judge actual ability or predict performance?

Does it really not bother you that all it takes to persuade the unknowing that you're a serious professional with decades of experience and a no-nonsense attitude is clothes?

This fact on its own explains why so much corporate process is a temple to idiocy. As Dominic Connor would doubtless point out, it's all about appearance management and the faking of credibility, not reality-based talent and ability.

I can't argue with any of your views about how the world should be. All I can say is, as with many things we have to put up with, it defies logic. But railing against the "is" in favour of the "ought to" doesn't help me achieve my goals. So, when I know that my proposal is the best solution I have no qualms to using whatever (legal / ethical) means of persuasion have the greatest effect. For me, in my particular situation, dressing as you would for a job interview (which is another situation where we hope to impress & persuade) seems to help. It may only boost my confidence, or it may present me as a professional. Either way, I find that I get fewer objections, and occasionally people call me "sir"!

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Re: I like wearing suits, although the opportunity rarely presents itself.

A decision maker who is so superficial as to judge someone by their clothes - and prefers colleagues to dress like a used-car salesman - should be sacked. Today.

If you're trying to impress them with your technical competence, the way to do it is surely *not* to start by dressing like someone whose skill-set is totally different.

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Vic
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Re: I like wearing suits, although the opportunity rarely presents itself.

> So wearing an £x00 suit suddenly makes you credible?

Yes.

It probably oughtn't to be that way, but that's the way it is.

Vic.

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Re: I like wearing suits, although the opportunity rarely presents itself.

It isn't just about projecting an outside image - I find that being fully suited and booted makes me more self critical about my professional behaviour and tends to make me 'raise my game' (urgh, I can't believe I just typed that phrase.)

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DJV
Alert

What?

No mention of Ballmer? Shock horror!

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If stock price, profits and market share are rising who cares about anything else? But...

In these firms that is not happening. Plus they are selling their own stock.

I think Ballmer gets a pass because MS stock is rising

As for suits I can see both arguments. I'm used to putting a suit on and getting into "work mode" but I never wear one working from home. Plenty of Wall Street banksters would not be seen without one. They still tended to snort Coke by the pound and p**s it away on $1400/hr escort services.

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Sil
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wealth creation

What's better, create huge wealth for investors and sometimes inevitably make mistakes, or be a professor with nothing better to do that Top 5 lists?

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Re: wealth creation

Be a professor. Every time.

Thanks for playing. Who the fuck cares about investors anyway?

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Better now.

"Pincus also made the PR mistake of selling a shedload of shares in his own company, which may have indicated a lack of confidence in his own management, but did show a sober appreciation of both his own business skills, and the future of his company's business model."

Better now.

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Facepalm

Petty on the Zuck

What the Zuck?

While as pointed out above a suit aids credibility if that's the best you have on him its hardly worth worrying about.

Having met a few renowned businessmen their reputation and presence tend to do more than a finely crafted suit ever could. If investors were not sure of Facebook's worth then why did they throw money at the IPO? If the investors were offended that some kid in a hoodie was worth more personally than all of them they need to man up.

There are far more worthy candidates:

who has only a couple of suppliers in a flood prone valley?

Who can't restore their data in a few days when your business seems to depend on that, ripping people off with overdraft fees and manipulating Libor rates. Yes I know they aren't a 'tech' company but with the branch closures they aren't much more than an internet company.

Who is so arrogant they suddenly discover their business has all gone to a faster more agile competitor.

Who hacked off their only supplier for a key component with patent litigation?

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Sheesh...

Any "Worst CEO" list that doesn't mention Steve Ballmer somewhere in it's top five isn't worth the pixels it's projected on.

Moving on...

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Anonymous Coward

Whats wrong drinking a beer when working?

I was on the Jack Daniels the other week when taking tech support calls as well as eating a fine Texas BBQ Pizza.

Just 'cos these things are not in the news regularly doesn't mean they go one!

I know the MD of one large phone company that went office chair racing with some of his staff on the top floor of their office one evening when things were quiet...!

His staff love him and he has a great staff retention rate. Not often at the moment staff like their boss.

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WTF?

I guess this whole debate revolves around the term "worst". Go read up on the guy who runs DishTV and in some circles he's the worst.

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Titles are for Toffs

Zynga had a games designer, who knew.

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