Tag Archive: Japan Inc.


“A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.” – General George S. Patton

A happy problem, but still a dilemma, for organizations/movements/great leaders, who have just achieved long-sought landmark accomplishments, is: What will you do for an encore?

For championship college and professional sports teams the answer is relatively easy to state, harder to achieve: repeat. The Chicago Blackhawks are tasked with skating the Stanley Cup for the fourth time in seven seasons next spring. The Golden State Warriors are faced with the challenge of winning back-to-back NBA titles, something that has never occurred in the franchise’s mostly desultory history.

[UNVERIFIED CONTENT] Gay-rights activists gathered outside of the Supreme Court on the morning when the Court handed down its decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.

[UNVERIFIED CONTENT] Gay-rights activists gathered outside of the Supreme Court on the morning when the Court handed down its decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.

For the same-sex marriage movement the June 26 Supreme Court ruling, legalizing the right of gay people to marry, was made by a razor-thin 5-4 Obergefell v. Hodges decision. The impact nonetheless was 50-0 as every state is immediately and permanently required to permit the performing of same-sex unions, and to recognize their legality regardless of where or how (e.g., civil, religious) they occur.

The next question, which has already been posed by The New York Times and others, for the successful civil rights campaign, is what comes next? The answer will come in the form of celebrating a great political and society victory (e.g., Pride Parades). Eventually, the cheering will subside and the reality of everyday life and the challenge of American politics returns. Now what? Certainly, there is the continued necessity of protecting hard-earned rights and preventing discrimination, and that makes sense; still the question must be posed:

What comes next?

This is an easy question to pose, much more difficult to answer … and with it, the dilemma that has vexed organizations, movements and great characters throughout the course of history.

“One Small Step for Man; One Giant Leap for Mankind”

Let’s face it: NASA has not been the same since 1969.armstrongmoon

Neil Armstrong defied death, and made it to-and-from the moon with far less computing power than can be found in a modern-day smart phone. The first man on the moon had his ticker tape parade upon returning to Mother Earth. His place in the history books is cemented. Undoubtedly, his obits had already been written by the day the Grim Reaper came-a-calling in 2012.

In the face of competing budgetary demands and $18 trillion in record red ink and counting at $3.3 billion per day at the federal level, NASA has become just another agency with a huge public relations problem as it must justify its existence in the absence of any realistic plans to put humans on other planets anytime soon.

The current edition of National Geographic has a cover story about NASA, the New Horizons spacecraft, and hopefully the first ever photos of Pluto, expected on July 14. Checking out the last planet of the solar system is cool, but Armstrong walking on the moon was legendary.

Gone are the days of John F. Kennedy and the Cold War competition and the call to put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. Yes, we won that technology contest against the Soviet Union, and just 22 years after Armstrong walked on the moon, the USSR collapsed. Russia has hardly bothered us since then.

Not as momentous as the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on same-sex marriage or Neil Armstrong walking on the moon was an accomplishment dear to the heat of the author of Almost DailyBrett: The opening of the long closed Japan market to foreign designed-and-manufactured semiconductors, including those originating from Silicon Valley.siliconwafer

In my tenure as the director of communications for the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and later as the director of corporate public relations for LSI Logic, yours truly worked for three years on this contentious issue.

At one time, Japan was in its ascendancy having driven Intel Corporation out of the DRAM (dynamic random access memory) market, a technology Intel actually invented. The U.S. semiconductor industry was being ushered into oblivion in the 1980s by Japan Inc.’s “Business is War” practices, the same fate that fell upon America’s pioneering color-TV industry.

The SIA and its members worked with Washington D.C. to stop predatory pricing or dumping of Japanese chips below cost, and finally pried open the Japanese market in 1996. The opening of  Japan and the decades-long recession eased the Japanese competitive threat. The U.S. industry achieved a great victory, but then … you guessed it … the question ensued: What was next for the SIA and its members?

Just like NASA, the SIA has tried one gambit after another to recapture its sense of purpose. The problem is that without an overriding issue (e.g., man on the moon, opening the Japan market), organizations and even individuals (e.g., General Patton when World War II ended) in many cases are never the same again.pattonscott

The war has been won. The cheering has subsided. The reality of what have you done lately ensues. An organization’s, movement’s, leader’s raison d’etre is no longer certain. A new public relations challenge comes to the forefront with no easy answers.

Some organizations, movements and leaders have successfully met the challenge of victory, while others face internal dissension as they struggle to come up with an answer to precisely what they should do for Act II.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/gay-marriage-and-other-major-rulings-at-the-supreme-court/2015/06/25/ef75a120-1b6d-11e5-bd7f-4611a60dd8e5_story.html?wpisrc=nl_evening&wpmm=1

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/us/gay-rights-leaders-push-for-federal-civil-rights-protections.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share&_r=0

http://www.biography.com/people/neil-armstrong-9188943

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/632929-for-over-a-thousand-years-roman-conquerors-returning-from-the

 

 

 

Is all the fuss about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s “hoodie” much ado about nothing or does it represent the latest culture clash between those living in God’s time zone and those residing west of the Hudson River…in particular the left coast?

zuckerberghoodie

The tissue rejection between those who actually create value by means of real innovation on the West Coast (e.g., Silicon Valley) and those who basically generate nothing but throw their money around on the east coast is not new.

Yes, Zuckerberg is originally an East Coast creature (Exeter Academy in N.H. and Kirkland House, H-33 at Harvard), but his social media company is located on the west side of Silicon Valley, not the upper west side. Zuckerberg is definitely seen as left coast…particularly to the investment banker types dreaming of their summer holidays in the Hamptons.

And yet those on both sides of the great divide with the forgotten flyover states in-between definitely need each other whether they are prepared to admit it or not. There were the days when the Silicon Valley types could virtually ignore New York unless and until they decided to take their enterprises public. And who needed Washington, D.C., which was seen as more trouble than it was worth.

That all ended when Japan Inc. decided to wage a different war against America, not with carrier-based Mitsubishi dive bombers, but instead with predatory pricing (e.g., dumping). First, the American color TV industry bit the dust. And then the US chip industry was in Japan’s crosshairs.

Silicon Valley needed to be introduced to Washington, D.C. in a big way. With the assistance of the denizens within the Beltway, the Japan threat eased and eventually evaporated in a recessionary spin. Silicon Valley lived on, but the clash of West Coast and East Coast cultures continued.

It was that region with Stanford University on the west and Cal Berkeley to the east that gave the world, “casual Friday.” And with it came the angst associated with what exactly do you wear on a casual Friday. It was simply lame to get it wrong. To many in the east, did it mean not wearing the Hermes’ tie to work or maybe ditching the pinstripe vest?

Steve Jobs was the next incarnation of Silicon Valley’s total disdain for the Brooks Brothers types in the East. He wore Issey Miyate black turtlenecks and jeans. He eschewed the podium, pinned on the lavaliere mike and held a conversation with Apple’s enthralled Kool-Aid drinkers with PowerPoint presentations serving as his teleprompter.

jobswithipad

And now there is 28-year-old Zuckerberg with his hoodie. Horrors, he wore it to meetings with investment bankers as Facebook management was making the rounds in advance of the company’s March 18 IPO. Who is this guy to wear a hoodie? Is he taunting the monied interests? Does he show no respect?

The questions that come to mind are whether Zuckerberg doesn’t get it or do the investment bankers not get it? Is one right and one wrong, and if so which one?

On one hand Zuckerberg et al. are seeking capital to compete against Google and whatever competitors arise over the years. On the other hand, Zuckerberg controls 55 percent of Facebook stock. This is his company. And maybe, just maybe, it is the buttoned-up investment bankers that need to lighten up and get with the program.

Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) wants to be cool and took a substantial risk to its coolness by joining the more than 5,000 companies that are listed on either the NYSE or the NASDAQ. Now his firm has to file quarterly earnings reports, issue annual reports and even hold shareholder meetings. Are these cool?

Maybe in the end analysis the hoodie projects an image, even if it doesn’t meet the approval of the fashion snobs. Many post-market pundits seem to be engaged in Schadenfreude, snickering that the actual Facebook launch (garnered $104 billion in market capitalization in the face of a down market) was less than stellar. And yet the NASDAQ computers were tied up for hours trying to process all the buy orders for Facebook. Seems like a contraction, doesn’t it?

Or as Yogi Berra said about why he no longer went to Ruggeri’s in St. Louis: “Nobody goes there anymore; it’s too crowded.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304371504577406142515388550.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/beyond-hoodie-zuckerberg-post-ipo-172345560.html

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/11/why-is-everyone-focused-on-zuckerbergs-hoodie/

http://gawker.com/5848754

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/historic-facebook-debut-falls-flat-005334494.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yogi_Berra

%d bloggers like this: