Tag Archive: Abhi Talwalkar


“I love Yahoo, and I believe in all of you. It’s important to me to see Yahoo into its next chapter.” Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer in her July 25 employee letter announcing Verizon’s $4.8 billion cash acquisition of Yahoo!

What next chapter?mayerbook

Want to take an Internet pioneer, first-mover $125 billion company and transform it into an also-ran, acquisition target for four pennies on the dollar?

And to top it off, reward Yahoo! chief executive officer Marissa Mayer with more than $50 million in severance pay?

Wonder why so many are so upset with Wall Street?

What is it with high-accolade, lofty-expectations, lavaliere-strutting narcissistic chief executives, who are ostensibly hired to reverse the fortunes of struggling companies?

Much later, we all discover their real personal agenda was to simply put the corporation on the auction block, and to get paid handsomely for the privilege.

Where can I sign up for this lucrative gig?

The author of Almost DailyBrett will gladly say all the right things for a few years, bloviate at a few “developer” conferences, CES, SXSW and TED Talks and then when no one is looking, sell the company to the highest of low bidders and get rewarded for creating … nothing, absolutely nothing.

Hold That Horizontal Pose!

Alas, one thing your author will never be asked to do is pose for Vogue. Sorry, I don’t own a Michael Kors dress … and never will.mayer

Almost DailyBrett three years ago questioned why relatively new Yahoo! CEO Mayer would accept Vogue’s invitation for a horizontal spread in a fashion magazine? Was she trying to impress buy-side and sell-side institutional investors?

Women have long and justifiably complained about being objectified. What was telegenic Mayer doing with her Vogue reclining pose?

What did her PR team think about her proving once again that sex sells? Did her photo draw even more eyeballs to rival Google’s market-leading search engine?

Before you start thinking that Almost DailyBrett is solely focusing on the lucrative PR disaster record of one Marissa Mayer, please consider that many are still smarting over how Abhi Talwalkar drove LSI Logic into the ditch and received at least a $5.74 million severance payment for burying the company.abhi1

Your author served as the director of Corporate Public Relations for LSI Logic. Even though I left after 10 years to join Edelman Public Relations in December 2005, one could already see what Abhi had in mind … shed as many assets as quickly as possible to make the company more attractive to buyers.

As Almost DailyBrett previously reported, LSI Logic was the innovator of the application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) specialty semiconductor market for nearly 25 years under the leadership of founder Wilfred J. Corrigan.

It took Abhi less than nine years to end its existence, eventually accepting Avago Technologies (H-P’s former semiconductor business) for $6.6 billion offer in late 2013. LSI Logic is no more, but Abhi’s contract provided for the following:

  1. In the case of our Chief Executive Officer, a lump sum payment equal to 2.75 times his or her base salary and average bonus received over the preceding three years. In the case of a participant other than our Chief Executive Officer, a lump sum payment equal to two times the individual’s base salary and average bonus received over the preceding three years. 2. Full acceleration of all unvested equity awards. 3. Reimbursement of COBRA premiums for health insurance for 18 months. 4. In the event that a participant’s “parachute payments” are subject to the excise tax imposed by Section 4999 of the Internal Revenue Code, then LSI will make a supplemental payment to the participant in an amount that equals the excise tax on the parachute payments, plus any additional excise tax and federal, state and local and employment income taxes, on the supplemental payment. However, the total supplemental payment shall not exceed the sum of the participant’s (i) base salary immediately prior to the change in control, and (ii) target bonus for the year in which the change in control occurs.

Glad to see the “supplemental payment” would not exceed Abhi’s $2.09 million annual salary. Enough is enough … Right?

It’s even better that Vogue didn’t ask Abhi to pose horizontally in a Michael Kors dress.

His severance was obscene enough.

http://fortune.com/2016/04/19/verizon-yahoo/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/briansolomon/2016/07/25/yahoo-sells-to-verizon-for-5-billion-marissa-mayer/#7b9c799b71b4

http://www.forbes.com/sites/briansolomon/2016/07/25/here-is-marissa-mayers-final-letter-to-yahoo-employees/#54a12ae875ba

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/mayer-vogue-nasdaq-yhoo/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/farewell-lsi-logic/

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/12/16/avago-to-buy-lsi-for-6-6-billion/?_r=0

 

 

“Public scrutiny of business is constant and intense, and in the past decade, disillusionment has grown over excesses in executive pay, questionable accounting practices, drug recalls, and moral laxity on the part of corporations.” — Paul A. Argenti, Professor of Management and Corporate Communication at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College

Should communication students be encouraged to work for publicly traded companies either from inside the corporation or providing external advice as a hired gun at public relations or advertising agency?

Or should these very same students be galvanized against the excesses of capitalism, demonstrating against Wall Street under the banner of social justice?

floodwallstreet

Are these questions mutually exclusive? Are you either for or against capitalism or for or against social justice?

These questions are magnified and intensified against the backdrop of underachieving employment, wage and real estate markets, while the NYSE and NASDAQ remain persistently bullish.

It appears this persistent economic scenario quite possibly will greet graduating students at least for the next academic year or two.

Examples of Corporate Excess

Finding examples of corporate excess is relatively easy.

Almost DailyBrett has joined the scads of other bloggers that take issue with seemingly brain-dead or just plain greedy antics by the leadership of large-cap publicly traded companies:

  • The author’s former company, LSI Logic, provided a seven-or-eight figure Golden Parachute to former CEO Abhi Talwalkar as he drove the 33-year-old specialty semiconductor designer into the abyss.
  • Spirit Airlines famously stiffed a decorated 76-year old, dying of cancer Marine veteran asking for a mere $197 refund, telling him literally to pound sand because he didn’t buy trip insurance. The carrier generously offered a partial credit, if he succumbed to the Grim Reaper before his flight.
  • October is right around the corner and that means (drum roll) even more corporate efforts to tie marketing bonanzas to Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Both 5-hour ENERGY and “Buckets for the Cure” KFC have become global leaders when it comes to “Pink Washing.”
  • Largest corporate bankruptcy-ever, Enron, is the poster-child when it comes to corporate greed and wrongdoing. And yet there were innocent people who were just trying to do their job, including telling the corporate story, until they realized they too were being misled.

Considering these examples and literally hundreds more, it is easy to give a broad-sweeping thumbs-down to multi-national corporations. At the same time, it should be remembered that these companies make the products and provide the services that we use on a daily basis (e.g., Apple = Macs, iPads, iPhones, iPods). They hire and provide benefits to literally tens of thousands (e.g., Boeing, 168,400; Starbucks, 160,000; Amazon, 88,400; Nordstrom, 58,140), Microsoft, 55,455). They provide wealth-accumulation prospects for the 54 percent of Americans who buy stocks, mutual funds and bonds (e.g., America’s investor class), including 73 percent of college graduates, and 83 percent of post-graduates.

Profit Motive

One of the major beefs espoused by the Occupy Wall Street movement three years ago, and the Flood Wall Street demonstrators earlier this month, is that publicly traded companies are focused on profits. These statements are accurate, but it should also be pointed out that companies have a legal (e.g., Employee Retirement Income Security Act or ERISA 1974) and moral (e.g., Fiduciary) obligation to produce the best bottom-line return possible for shareholders. Failure to do so invites almost certain civil and possible criminal litigation against the companies and potential dismissal of C-level executives.

floodwallstreet1

As a master’s degree candidate four years ago at the University of Oregon, the author of Almost DailyBrett noted the unrestrained celebration of competitive advantage and buy low/sell high mantra at the business school, and the unrestrained embrace of social justice including redistribution of income at the journalism school.

It seemed that one would build a statue of Adam Smith, while the other would throw flowers at the feet of Che Guevara. One would urge students to work and advise corporate America and the other would implore becoming an activist, marching, demonstrating and hopefully not being arrested.

Which is the better option for graduating students in making corporate America, particularly fallible publicly traded companies, more responsive to communities, the environment and let’s not forget, its own employees?

Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility or CSR should not be seen as an oxymoron. The concept of doing good (CSR) should not be viewed as contradictory to doing well (fiduciary responsibility). Graduates of communications, journalism and business schools can and should emphasize the value of doing BOTH to improve the bottom line for investors, including employees, while doing good deeds for communities, the planet and the rank-and-file employees.

Certainly the likes of Occupy Wall Street, which never found a unifying message, and Flood Wall Street, which tied capitalism to climate change, have their First Amendment Rights to (preferably) peacefully demonstrate. These NGOs need trained communicators and message developers.

Conversely, graduates could also choose to work internally to make companies better. They can stand for both fiduciary and corporate social responsibility. They can advocate against excessive C-level compensation. They can take stands against Pink Washing and Green Washing. They can ensure that the public is provided with good products at fair prices and everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

And heaven forbid, if another Enron is in the offing, they can courageouly tell the uncomfortable truth using their communication skills.

Is it better to be inside the corporation under the banner of capitalism or out in the streets (or in tents) calling for social justice?

There is more than one way to make corporate America better for everyone.

http://exec.tuck.dartmouth.edu/about-us/faculty/paul-argenti

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/22/flood-wall-street-arrests_n_5865468.html

http://nypost.com/2014/09/22/climate-change-protesters-flood-wall-street/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/farewell-lsi-logic/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/lessons-from-the-spirit-airlines-pr-debacle/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/evil-spirit-airlines/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/5-hour-pink-washing/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/shameless-5-hour-energy/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/buckets-for-the-cure/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/what-would-you-do-if-you-were-enrons-pr-chief/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/fiduciary-responsibility-vs-corporate-social-responsibility/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/adam-smith-vs-che%e2%80%99-guevera/

 

 

If all goes well with the regulators and the lawyers, LSI Logic will slowly disappear over the horizon, going into the history books later this year, reduced to a Silicon Valley afterthought.

Keep in mind, we are talking about two iterations of the company: First, the LSI Logic (NYSE: LSI) created by Wilf Corrigan 33 years ago; and second the present day LSI Corporation (NASDAQ: LSI), on the precipice of being ushered into oblivion after eight-short years under the “management” of Wilf’s successor, Abhi Talwalkar.

There was a misguided celebration by some in the financial community in 2005 when Wilf at 67-years young turned over the reins to Abhi. This was the same Wilf Corrigan, who grew LSI Logic from zero revenues in 1981 to $1.8 billion when he finally hung up the cleats. No one was complaining when LSI Logic’s stock reached a post-split price of $90. Then there was the bursting of the Internet Bubble and the stock fell back to $3.

This is the same Wilf Corrigan, who founded the custom semiconductor business, known as ASICs or Application Specific Integrated Circuits. Sony reached out to LSI Logic when it needed a critical processor for the first two generations of the PlayStation. This is the same LSI Logic that pioneered the concept of System on a Chip. The company eventually reached $2.7 billion in revenues before the Bubble Burst.

When I was joined the company in 1995, I was awed by the sophistication of the company’s innovation, its library of complex intellectual property cores, and its all-star lineup of future technology C-level executives: John Daane (Altera); Brian Halla (National Semiconductor); Moshe Gavrielov (Xilinx); Jen-Hsun Huang (NVIDIA); Ronnie Vashishta (eASIC) and Bruce Entin (Silicon Valley Communication Partners). Bruce was not only the best boss in my career, but is an even better friend.

Enter Abhi in 2005. He took it from there until last December 16 when Avago Technologies announced its $6.6 billion cash acquisition of LSI. If Winston Churchill was still around to assess Abhi’s eight-year stewardship, he would be tempted to state: “Never in recorded history has so many waited so long for so little.”

Wilf’s Enduring Legacy

Looking back at my 10 years as the director of Corporate Public Relations for at LSI Logic (proper spelling), your author was honored and humbled to have the opportunity to work closely with Wilf Corrigan until shortly after he stepped down. Almost DailyBrett is proud of his tenure, but saddened by what could have been and the upcoming silent burial of LSI Logic.

Let’s face it: Many were downright scared of Wilf. He had the reputation for being a tough, no-nonsense businessman, a calling card he earned from his 1970s chairmanship of Fairchild. For some reason, Almost DailyBrett was not intimidated, but always respectful. Your author found Wilf to be extremely well read and not just in the business of technology, but politics, history and geography. Particularly on road trips, we talked for literally hours on these subjects.

An irony of Wilf’s career was Gould’s hostile takeover attempt of Fairchild circa 1979. It didn’t take long for Wilf to realize that Fairchild was in play. In the end, Wilf and the Fairchild Board of Directors found a White Knight in Schlumberger. In turn, Schlumberger drove Fairchild into the ground. The Schlumberger acquisition of Fairchild provided Wilf with the opportunity to create his own company, LSI Logic or Large Scale Integration Logic. And now his creation is being put out of its agony by Avago. Did the company have to end this way?

Mexico Acquiring Guatemala?

When it was time for Wilf to step down, LSI Logic HR head Jon Gibson unearthed Abhi from Intel. This was the same Intel that created legends by the names of Andy Grove, Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce and Craig Barrett. Would Abhi do the same for LSI Logic? lsi

Abhi guided the rebranding of LSI (dropping “Logic” from the name) and adopting the “flower” logo. Later LSI acquired Agere Systems for $4 billion, the technology equivalent of Mexico absorbing Guatemala. LSI’s present revenues are $2.5 billion. Why Agere? And for what purpose?

Until the announcement of the Avago acquisition, LSI’s stock remained mired for years at $8 or less. Being charitable, one can easily conclude the company underperformed. And now it will be absorbed into Avago, a company that once was HP’s semiconductor business.

An oft-heard complaint about Wall Street revolves around executive compensation, especially those who walk away with millions even when they underachieve. Abhi ($2.09 million annual salary, not including options) will inevitably get a huge package in recognition of his starring role in driving the company into the abyss. Undoubtedly, he will live a very comfortable life. LSIlogo

And LSI Logic…it will always be LSI Logic to me…deserved a better fate, a much better fate.

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/12/16/avago-to-buy-lsi-for-6-6-billion/?_r=0

http://allthingsd.com/20131216/in-chip-deal-singapores-avago-to-acquire-lsi-for-6-6-billion/

http://www.zacks.com/stock/news/118176/is-the-lsi-acquisition-in-jeopardy

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/12/16/avago-lsi-acquisition/4038113/

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/pr?s=LSI+Profile

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