Tag Archive: Reg FD


The national Twitter Bull-in-a-China-shop champion may not be the one you suspect.

Would you allow Elon Musk to baby-sit your retirement nest egg?

REUTERS/Rashid Umar Abbasi

Consider the following:

In the last three months, Tesla common shares (NASDAQ: TSLA) are down $69.59 or 19.74 percent.

Tesla confirmed today the Department of Justice (DOJ) is launching a criminal probe into les affaires at Tesla.

Earlier, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) announced its own civil investigation following Tesla founder Elon Musk’s August 7 tweet, proclaiming “funding secured” for taking Tesla private. Is Musk guilty of selective disclosure of material information (e.g., “Funding secured) in violation of SEC Reg FD (Fair Disclosure)?

There was also the inexplicable video of Musk smoking dope on television.

Why Elon, why?

Musk charged not once but twice that one of the heroes, saving the Thailand boys’ soccer team from a flooded cave, is a “Pedo guy.”

Nomura Securities downgraded TSLA from “buy” to “neutral,” reducing the company’s price target from $400 to $300, concluding that Tesla shares are “no longer investable.”

“Notwithstanding improving fundamentals, we believe that Tesla is in need of better leadership, an about face, and are moving to the sidelines until we see what happens with management. “ – Nomura Securities analyst Romit Shah

Does Elon Need His Own Mad Dog Mattis?

The best-and-brightest public relations counselors in the world can do absolutely nothing with Elon, if and until he is willing to ponder sage advice for even a nanosecond.

Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk takes a drag from a cigarette laced with
marijuana in this screenshot from the Joe Rogan Experience podcast on
Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018.

Some have suggested shaking up the Tesla Board of Directors to include strong-willed  independent hombres and mujeres willing to practice tough love with Elon (e.g., no public smoking marijuana for whatever reason).

Elon ‘Musk’s brother and board member, Kimbal, is not a candidate for his job. Did you see his CNBC interview this week from the floor of the venerable NYSE wearing a cowboy hat?

Why Kimbal, why?

Besides trying to run both publicly traded Tesla (EVs/solar) and privately held SpaceX (rockets) at the same time and thus needing more sleep, maybe the biggest issue is way too many sycophants kissing Elon’s derriere for way too long.

Remember the gushing CBS 60 Minutes Scott Pelley interview of Elon back in 2014? Musk was hailed at the time as the second coming of … Steve Jobs including  Almost DailyBrett. Your author repeatedly bought and sold Tesla shares for a nice profit, except the last time, selling for a modest loss.

The CNBC pundits were asking out loud circa 2014 whether Tesla was 1.) An electric vehicle company, 2.) an energy company or 3.) Elon Musk’s company?

The issue now is what would happen if a stronger, independent Board of Directors took the helm at Tesla? Would they have the cojones to fire Elon Musk? Would that stunning action be the 21st Century equivalent of John Sculley firing Steve Jobs at Apple? How did that move play out?

Most of all, what would happen to Tesla’s stock? The shorts have already gone crazy; they presumably would have a field day.

Maybe what Elon needs is his own version of a chief operating officer Mad Dog Mattis or some other chain-of-command George S. Patton type to knock off the nonsense?

Until there is some sense of consistent operating discipline (see Tim Cook’s management of Apple following the 2011 passing of Steve Jobs), the shorts will continue to bet against Tesla and its common shares.

Anybody want to “short” Apple? Didn’t think so.

Most of all, Elon Musk should be precluded from even going near Twitter. These 280 characters can lead to a heap of trouble, including twin probes by the DOJ and the SEC.

Audi today unveiled its $75,000 luxury EV SUV. There is considerable competition because electric cars are not going away.

Static photo,
Colour: electric green

Tesla still maintains considerable advantages: Market leadership, pure-play, first mover, visionary company.

Even with its present cash burn and convertible notes coming due next March, Tesla can more than survive and continue to drive technology leadership.

All Tesla needs is for a Mad Dog to put a discipline leash on one, Elon Musk.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimcollins/2018/09/05/elon-musks-increasingly-erratic-behavior-comes-at-a-price-for-tesla-shareholders/#1058c7323944

https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/09/11/elon-musks-erratic-behavior-continues-to-rattle-wall-street/

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/18/tesla-stock-drops-after-company-reportedly-to-face-us-criminal-probe-over-musk-statements.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/13/business/dealbook/tesla-elon-musk-saudi-arabia.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/only-in-america/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/donate-to-united-way-or-invest-in-tesla/

https://www.cnbc.com/video/2018/09/17/kimbal-musk-says-his-brother-elon-is-doing-great.html

 

The four basic tenets of crisis communication:

Tell The Truth,

Tell It All,

Tell It Fast,

Move On.

Can Almost DailyBrett add? Don’t take 937 words or more to tell your side of the story, five days late.

In this age of texting and social media, even 500 words are too much … way too much.

In the wake of Cambridge Analytica’s improper use of data from at least 50 million Facebook subscribers for political purposes, the social media company was conspicuously slow in replying.

The company’s common shares have already lost 13 percent in terms of market capitalization, two class-action lawsuits have been filed, and most likely, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has opened an investigation, and most likely Facebook’s CEO will be subpoenaed by both houses of Congress.

Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally stepped to the plate last Wednesday with his mammoth Facebook post/statement. Reportedly, Zuckerberg has already lost $10 billion in net worth.

Responding to Zuckerberg’s lengthy epistle about Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica affair, Kelly Evans of CNBC declared the company’s statement was TLDR or Too Long, Didn’t Read.

There was no question that Facebook needed to issue a statement from founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Mission accomplished … finally.

Actually reading and re-rereading Zuckerberg’s prose, one is convinced this is a classic case of CEO statement by committee. The world’s worst news releases are those composed by six, seven, eight, nine … or more (including lawyers), each with at least one point that needs to be incorporated.

Forget about zero based budgeting (e.g., one deletion for each addition), the Zuckerberg post comes across as both agonizing and defensive.

Beware Of Too Many Cooks In The Kitchen

What does Almost DailyBrett recommend when it comes to composing a statement in a crisis situation?

First, keep the numbers of cooks in the kitchen to a minimum, no more than six people … including the principal, Zuckerberg, and the general counsel, Colin Stretch.

Second, ask who else needs to be there? COO Sheryl Sandberg? Okay who else? The determination for participation should be based exclusively on need to be there, not nice to be there.

Third, the lead public relations pro should serve as the editor for the post, coming into the meeting with a “strawman” draft, thus providing a starting point for the exercise.

Fourth, the goal of the statement should be completeness but not exhaustive completeness. The question: ‘Have we told our side of the story?’ Don’t expect to answer every question by means of a post. Make your points, and make them clearly.

Fifth, quarterback your disclosure process. Ensure your employees (e.g., Facebook, 25,105), customers (e.g., advertisers), shareholders, investors … everyone receives the message simultaneously.

Sixth, Zuckerberg’s post is “material” under SEC’s Reg FD (Fair Disclosure provision). The issuance of the post/statement requires the immediate filing of an 8-K disclosure, preferably upon the close of the U.S. markets at 4:01 pm EDT/1:01 pm PDT.

Seventh, Facebook’s communications team and hired-gun public relations agencies need to be disciplined, keeping their related chatter with business-political-trade reporters/editors to a minimum. Be deliberately boring. Don’t walk on the statement from the boss.

Looking back on the four tenets of crisis communications in the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica case:

Did Facebook finally tell the truth? Only time will tell, but it appears the company is trying to do just that.

Did Facebook tell it all? From the size of the statement, the company told it all … and then some.

Did Facebook, tell it fast? Five days for a CEO response is untenable. For a social media leader, 937 words is inexcusable (more than three Twitter posts).

Is Facebook moving on with its Sunday newspaper ads?

Facebook is trying, but this story has legs (e.g., lawsuits, congressional testimony, stock under pressure). It appears that Facebook will have to do a better job monitoring the content on its site (most likely with future government regulation), even if it comes from 2 billion subscribers.

Wonder if Mark Zuckerberg wants to go back to his Harvard dorm room?

 

Hard Questions: Update on Cambridge Analytica (937 words)

Today, Mark Zuckerberg announced measures Facebook is taking to better protect people’s data, given reports that Cambridge Analytica may still be in possession of Facebook user data that was improperly obtained. We shared more information on the steps we’re taking to prevent abuse of our platform in a post on our Newsroom.

Mark Zuckerberg

on Wednesday

I want to share an update on the Cambridge Analytica situation — including the steps we’ve already taken and our next steps to address this important issue.

We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you. I’ve been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn’t happen again. The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago. But we also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.

Here’s a timeline of the events:

In 2007, we launched the Facebook Platform with the vision that more apps should be social. Your calendar should be able to show your friends’ birthdays, your maps should show where your friends live, and your address book should show their pictures. To do this, we enabled people to log into apps and share who their friends were and some information about them.

In 2013, a Cambridge University researcher named Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app. It was installed by around 300,000 people who shared their data as well as some of their friends’ data. Given the way our platform worked at the time this meant Kogan was able to access tens of millions of their friends’ data.

In 2014, to prevent abusive apps, we announced that we were changing the entire platform to dramatically limit the data apps could access. Most importantly, apps like Kogan’s could no longer ask for data about a person’s friends unless their friends had also authorized the app. We also required developers to get approval from us before they could request any sensitive data from people. These actions would prevent any app like Kogan’s from being able to access so much data today.

In 2015, we learned from journalists at The Guardian that Kogan had shared data from his app with Cambridge Analytica. It is against our policies for developers to share data without people’s consent, so we immediately banned Kogan’s app from our platform, and demanded that Kogan and Cambridge Analytica formally certify that they had deleted all improperly acquired data. They provided these certifications.

Last week, we learned from The Guardian, The New York Times and Channel 4 that Cambridge Analytica may not have deleted the data as they had certified. We immediately banned them from using any of our services. Cambridge Analytica claims they have already deleted the data and has agreed to a forensic audit by a firm we hired to confirm this. We’re also working with regulators as they investigate what happened.

This was a breach of trust between Kogan, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. But it was also a breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it. We need to fix that.

In this case, we already took the most important steps a few years ago in 2014 to prevent bad actors from accessing people’s information in this way. But there’s more we need to do and I’ll outline those steps here:

First, we will investigate all apps that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform to dramatically reduce data access in 2014, and we will conduct a full audit of any app with suspicious activity. We will ban any developer from our platform that does not agree to a thorough audit. And if we find developers that misused personally identifiable information, we will ban them and tell everyone affected by those apps. That includes people whose data Kogan misused here as well.

Second, we will restrict developers’ data access even further to prevent other kinds of abuse. For example, we will remove developers’ access to your data if you haven’t used their app in 3 months. We will reduce the data you give an app when you sign in — to only your name, profile photo, and email address. We’ll require developers to not only get approval but also sign a contract in order to ask anyone for access to their posts or other private data. And we’ll have more changes to share in the next few days.

Third, we want to make sure you understand which apps you’ve allowed to access your data. In the next month, we will show everyone a tool at the top of your News Feed with the apps you’ve used and an easy way to revoke those apps’ permissions to your data. We already have a tool to do this in your privacy settings, and now we will put this tool at the top of your News Feed to make sure everyone sees it.

Beyond the steps we had already taken in 2014, I believe these are the next steps we must take to continue to secure our platform.

I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I’m responsible for what happens on our platform. I’m serious about doing what it takes to protect our community. While this specific issue involving Cambridge Analytica should no longer happen with new apps today, that doesn’t change what happened in the past. We will learn from this experience to secure our platform further and make our community safer for everyone going forward.

I want to thank all of you who continue to believe in our mission and work to build this community together. I know it takes longer to fix all these issues than we’d like, but I promise you we’ll work through this and build a better service over the long term.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/21/zuckerberg-statement-on-cambridge-analytica.html

https://www.cnbc.com/quotes/?symbol=FB&tab=profile

https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/FB/profile?p=FB

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/in-search-of-another-suite-h33-kirkland-house/

 

 

 

H

“After taking your PR classes for the past three years, I feel confident to go out into the world of PR communications professionals. I will miss your enthusiasm in the classroom every day, and writing your two-page executive memos! I can’t thank you enough.” – Graduating Central Washington University Public Relations Student

“I have learned more from your classes than all the other classes I’ve taken combined, and that’s not just including lessons having to do with school. You taught me to take pride in my work, and to put in the effort to do my best. I honestly do not know if I would be where I am today, or have the future that I see myself having if it weren’t for you.” – Another Graduating Central Washington University Public Relations Student

DSC01200

Trust me when I say not all student reviews are so positive.

When they are, you treasure each and every one.

Most of all you don’t take them for granted because there is always another opinion.

What we call the “Rule of One.” There is always at least one student, who quite frankly hates your guts and even loathes the very ground you walk on. Sigh.

And then there is the student, who can quote back what you said.

In this world of texting, Snapchatting, mobile devices and old-fashioned laptops, breaking through and instilling even ein bisschen wisdom seems almost miraculous.

A professor can prepare. She or he can spend hours researching. And devote even more time to tinkering with PowerPoints and video. Finally, the time comes to deliver the lecture, coax questions and then ask two key rhetorical questions:

  1. Was anyone listening?
  2. Does anyone care what you have to say?

One of my students provided me with a thank you card with valuable “Kevin Quotes” including a smiley face.graduation2016

Here they are with an Almost DailyBrett commentary under each one. They are offered in the exact order chosen by the student writer:

  • “Buy on rumor; sell on news” Almost DailyBrett: This ubiquitous expression in the late 1990s directly led to the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) promulgating Reg. FD (Fair Disclosure). Corporate chieftains could no longer “whisper” meaningful tidbits to favored financial analysts (e.g., Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Fidelity, Morgan Stanley) allowing their clients to buy on the whispered rumor and then sell on the actual news.
  • “Your Brand Is In Play 24/7/365” Almost DailyBrett: Donald Trump in particular should pay close attention to this axiom. With instantaneous global communication through a few key strokes, digital communication can advance a personal or corporate with lightning speed, and destroy it just as quick.
  • “Digital Is Eternal” Almost DailyBrett: The complement to your brand being in play 24/7/365 is that all digital communications are permanent, enduring and can be resurrected by hiring managers, plaintiff attorneys and others who can hurt your reputation and/or career.justinesacco
  • “The Long and Short Program” Almost DailyBrett: The Olympics figure skating competition metaphor pertains to 10-K annual report letters and 10-Q quarterly earnings reports respectively. The former has more flexibility, while the latter must give precedence to GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) and include revenues, gross margin percentage, net income, EPS, cash-on-hand and dividends (if applicable).
  • “Don’t Be a Google Glasshole” Almost DailyBrett: Guess, I really did say that …
  • “Buy Low; Sell High” Almost DailyBrett. Every one of our corporate communications/investor relations classes began with this chant. One must understand profit margins.
  • “Do Not Buy Stock in Enron” Almost DailyBrett: Don’t buy a stock just because it is going up. You need to understand a company’s raison d’ etat before you commit funds. There is a real difference between investing and gambling. Those who gambled on Enron lost everything.
  • “How Does a Company Make Money?” Almost DailyBrett: Bethany McLean of Fortune asked this basic question to Jeffrey Skilling, now imprisoned former Enron president. The Harvard-trained chief executive needed an accountant to answer this most basic of questions. McLean smelled a rat.
  • “Stocks Are Forward-Looking Indicators” Almost DailyBrett: As Wall Street wild man Jim Cramer of CNBC Mad Money fame always states” “I don’t care about a stock’s past, only its future.”edwards1
  • “Tell the Truth, Tell It All, Tell It Fast. Move On” Almost DailyBrett: These 11 words are the crux of effective crisis communications. Disclosure is inevitable. You can manage or be managed. Former presidential candidate John Edwards is the poster child for failing to follow this advice.
  • “Corporate America Needs Better PR” Almost DailyBrett: Amen

Appreciate the nice words. Even more: Thanks for listening and learning.

https://www.snapchat.com/

https://www.sec.gov/answers/regfd.htm

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/04/08/the-internet-where-fools-go-to-feel-important/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/the-mother-of-all-weak-arguments/

 

 

Snap. Crackle. Pop.

Silicon Valley and other mass communicators are enamored when it comes to threes.

CNBC’s investment guru Jim Cramer talks about the three moving forces in technology: Social, Mobile and Cloud.

socialmobilecloud

Threes are easy to remember, fours or fives, not so much.

At LSI Logic, we were fond of talking about our three C’s: Communications, Computer and Consumer.

These were our three strategic markets. The three C’s were easy for customers, employees and owners (e.g., investors) or the acronym, C.E.O., (another three) to remember.

In this spirit, let’s talk about the Almost DailyBrett Communication Big Three.

These are an absolutely essential trio of communications skills, most in demand in the marketplace, and which need to be taught by our colleges and universities.

Drum roll: Persuasive Writing; Financial Communications; and Social Media.

Think of it this way: The first two are analog in nature and the latter is digital.

Compelling Writing Skills

Writing goes back to the first publicity campaign on behalf of the all-powerful Pharaoh, the Rosetta Stone. He was awesome, and if you need proof just check out the hieroglyphics on the smoothed surface.rosetta

Johannes Gutenberg speeded up the process with his Mainz, Germany printing press in the 14th Century, and now the acceleration is at warp speed with wireless communication devices.

Despite the unprecedented ability to communicate in nanoseconds to virtually any spot on the globe at any time, the old-fashioned skills of developing compelling, credible and accurate copy under deadline pressure has never been greater. For some, writing is a natural gift that comes easy. For others, it is a laborious process that can be perfected with practice.

Starting this fall, your Almost DailyBrett author is teaching Introduction to Public Relations Writing at Central Washington University. My 20 students are going to be asked to produce the following:

  • Curriculum Vitae or resume, emphasizing the student’s professional and academic accomplishments with quantifiable measurements
  • Twitter-style cover letter applying for an entry-level public relations position and emphasizing the student’s personal ROI or Return on Investment
  • Complete LinkedIn profile including the same elements of the resume, plus a professional mug shot, three references and at least 30 connections
  • News advisory targeting legacy and/or digital native media informing and/or inviting them to attend and cover an upcoming event
  • News release providing information about a breaking news story, employing the inverted pyramid and using the five W’s – What, When, Where, Who, Why – and the one H – How
  • Pitch to a selected reporter, editor, correspondent, blogger or news aggregator about a newsworthy story and offering assistance
  • Copy for a 30-second radio or television PSA or Public Service Announcement on behalf of a non-profit agency
  • Chief executive officer strategy letter to investors, analysts and employees outlining your selected company’s business strategy and future prospects
  • CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility letter to company employees about efforts your chosen corporation is making to safeguard employees, protect the environment and serve the communities in which the company does business
  • Crisis communications news release – written under deadline pressure – announcing steps a company has taken to address the crisis and pointing to the future
  • Four personal blog posts, emphasizing public relations skills and commenting on breaking news events
  • Two-page executive memo with bullets and subheads introducing a subject, examining the factors, and recommending a course of action

The philosophy behind these assignments is the only way to really become effective at persuasive writing is to Just Do It!

Financial Communications

Many right-brain types, the very people who opt for Journalism school, avoid figures at all costs. And yet, the numbers will find them.

We now live in a world of “big data,” particularly those companies that are publicly traded. Chairman Mao is probably rolling over in his grave as PRC-based Alibaba takes its predominate Mainland China digital retail play public this Friday with shares expected to be initially priced between $66 and $68.

alibaba

Right-brain students need to figure out how to make peace with numbers. UNC Professor Chris Roush (Show Me The Money) states ex-cathedra: “Behind every number is a story.”

Hmmm … that means there are stories to be told about these numbers. In addition, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) requires these stories to be told to all investors, if they are “material.” Translated: If a company has “material” information that would prompt an investor to buy, sell or hold company stock, then the company is mandated to disclose under Regulation FD (Fair Disclosure).

What this means is that each and every of the more than 5,000 publicly traded companies (NYSE or NASDAQ) in this country must issue news releases. The writers are not expected to produce the figures (there are oodles of accountants, auditors, controllers …), but they instead must tell the story behind these numbers.

That means that college and university communications graduates should know the difference between the income statement top line (revenues), the bottom line (net income or net loss) and everything in between (e.g., COGS, Gross Margin, SG&A, R&D, Operating Income, Taxes, Amortized Expenses …).

Sure wish someone had been kind enough to teach me these skills, including how to read a balance sheet, back in college.

Social Media

The world has already shifted from Web 1.0 (accessing websites) to Web 2.0 (wired and wireless devices talking to each other) and soon Web 3.0 (semantic web).

The Economist reported this week that nearly one-quarter ($120 billion) of the world’s $500 billion advertising business is coming from digital ads, increasingly being delivered to mobile devices. Yes there is no doubt that digital media is being monetized through search engine optimization (SEO) and other techniques, and that Genie is not going back in the bottle.

Facebook (friends), Twitter (140-character tweets), LinkedIn (connections), YouTube (videos), Flickr (photos), Pinterest (online scrapbooks), WordPress (Almost DailyBrett) all enjoy first-mover advantages in their respective social media spaces. There are challengers now and more competitors to come. The bottom line is that digital publishing through binary code is here to stay.

Companies and international public relations agencies are expecting that digital natives instinctively understand social media. This all circles back to the ability to write clear, concise, credible and compelling copy for an audience that is increasingly overwhelmed by information.

digitalnatives

And much of this data comes in the way of numbers, the ones with a story behind them. And increasingly, these stories no longer involve a gate-keeper but are transmitted though “owned” media (e.g., websites, blogs, social media sites).

Stating that compelling writing, financial communications and social media are the Big Three of Communications may entice the crisis communications, marketing, branding, reputation management, employee communications, public affairs and other dedicated professionals to take umbrage.

Fret not. Almost DailyBrett loves you too, and says to each of you that you need (or soon will need) graduates who can tell the story, and tell it well, through effective writing, numerical literacy and of course, proficiency with digital tools.

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/importance-writing-skills-business-845.html

http://www.unc.edu/~croush/CV.htm

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/owned-media-an-answer-to-digital-change/

http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21615869-technology-radically-changing-advertising-business-profound-consequences

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The older you get the more risk you should take. If I were to die tomorrow, I have no complaints. I’ve experienced more than anybody should have expected in a lifetime,” Micron CEO Steve Appleton to a reporter after escaping death in a 2004 plane crash.

He was not so lucky in 2012.

appleton

I first met Steve Appleton in the middle of the night, trying to combat jet lag after a nearly 10-hour flight from San Francisco to Tokyo in 1994. The venue? The hotel bar? Nope, the fitness room at the Four Seasons Hotel in Tokyo. He couldn’t sleep either. Time to hit the weights.

Steve was the president of Micron Technology, the leading US producer of memory chips known as DRAMs (pronounced: dee-rams) or Dynamic Random Access Memory. I was the humble director of communications for the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA). We were trying to open up the Japan market to foreign chips.

Steve was five years younger than me, and was a classic overachiever. He was also a genuine good guy, who never talked down to anyone and treated me and everybody else with respect. He was a great success story, starting on the Micron factory floor in 1983 and rising to the rank of company chairman 14 years later. Steve was also known for taking risks.

Attending an SIA meeting 10 years later, I went down to the weight room and Steve was not there. I saw him later and joshed him about missing a workout. He made some reference about recovering from an “accident.” That particular accident was an experimental plane crash east of Boise that almost took his life. He suffered a punctured lung, head injuries, a ruptured disk and broken bones. You would think that would be the end of his stunt plane flying. Knowing Steve, that was not the case.

Steve also took his hand (or life in his hands) at skydiving, triathlons and off-road vehicle racing, such as the 1.047 Baja Challenge. Asked about he said in typical Appleton style:

“I don’t know what would be worse than being in the memory business for risk taking. If we were in some stable, monopolistic business, I’d probably get objections from my executive staff about doing this, but they’re all dying to go.”

It was Steve, who died.

Last Friday, Steve took off in a Lancair from the Boise Airport and soon after takeoff, he tried to turn back, the plane stalled, plunged to the ground, and he was dead. There is no doubt that Steve died taking a risk, something he always enjoyed. However, corporate governance experts are starting to wonder out loud whether chief executive officers and other C-level corporate execs should be restricted from yacht racing (e.g. Oracle head Larry Ellison), running with the bulls at Pamplona (US Airways CEO Doug Parker), balloon racing around the world (Virgin founder Richard Branson) and other dangerous activities.

Being an entrepreneur is about risk taking and the rewards (and failures) that come from taking chances. It is one thing to bet it all with shareholder and/or venture capital funding; it is something else to bet your own life thrill seeking.

Reportedly, there have been no securities lawsuits against corporations not reporting dare-devil CEO activities as “material” events under the provisions of the SEC’s Regulation FD or Fair Disclosure. One must wonder how long it will be before securities litigation firms start launching lawsuits for non-disclosure of CEO daredeveil activities as a new way of dipping into corporate deep pockets.

According to the Villanova School of Law, all four professional sports leagues (i.e. MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL) have “other activities” clauses written into player contracts. For example, MLB strictly prohibits players from engaging in boxing or wrestling. Players must receive written consent from teams before going skiing, car or motorcycle riding.

Of course, weird things do occur. Detroit Tigers pitcher Joel Zumaya missed an appearance in the 2006 American League Championship Series as a result of an injury incurred playing “Guitar Hero” on Sony’s PlayStation 2…go figure. Maybe he was practicing a Pete Townshend pin wheel swoop at his Gibson Les Paul or Fender Stratocaster?

Should Micron have grounded Steve Appleton after he endured his severe injuries in 2004 upon the crash of his stunt plane? In hindsight, the answer is obvious. However, even without knowing Steve’s ultimate fate, the 2004 accident should have prompted the board to act decisively to prevent these activities.

That doesn’t mean he couldn’t continue to be a risk taker in the production, sale and marketing of DRAMs against entrenched competition, mainly from Asia. That’s what the board was paying him to do, take calculated (business) risks. Dodging death once in the wake of a stunt plane crash, and then doing it again would not be regarded as “calculated” by most observers.

If the Micron board had acted then and there, Steve would still be with us…Maybe he could have played “Guitar Hero” for thrills instead.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/micron-says-ceo-steve-appleton-has-died-in-a-boise-plane-crash/2012/02/03/gIQA5LCKnQ_story.html

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/are-daredevil-ceos-worth-risk-micron-thought-so-2012-02-07

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/07/insurance-ceo-risk-idUSL2E8D6HDM20120207

http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/technology/story/2012-02-03/micron-ceo-plane-crash/52949164/1

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