Tag Archive: SIA


Tired of screaming talking heads?

Are you just done … with polemics?

Want real news that is more than 24-7-365 bashing of Donald Trump?

How about real-time information, which is 100 percent relevant to at least 54 percent of Americans who constitute the nation’s “investor class”?

Digging deeper one finds that 73 percent of those with bachelor’s degrees and above, and 83 percent of master’s degrees and above, own publicly traded company shares or stock-based mutual funds … many in employer 401K plans or IRAs.

Buy Low, Sell High!

With all of these stats in mind, Almost DailyBrett welcomes you to the best network on television: CNBC.

What ever happened to critics who proclaimed that around-the-clock Wall Street market coverage would never work?

They are the same naysayers who proclaimed that 24/7/365 sports wouldn’t fly when ESPN was launched in 1979.

How did either of these forecasts work out?

Just as ESPN’s proven business model fostered a plethora of imitators (i.e., Fox Sports, CBS Sports, NBC Sports Network), the same is true with CNBC, born in 1989.

Two years later, CNBC’s parent acquired Financial New Network. There was obviously moola to be made from those who care about global markets, particularly their NYSE and NASDAQ investments.

Never-shy-about-about-exploiting-an-opportunity, Rupert Murdoch, debuted CNBC’s major competitor Fox Business in 2007, including raiding CNBC for proven on-air talent (i.e., Maria “The Money Honey” Bartiromo, Neil Cavuto, Liz Claman …).

Fox Business now leads in the Nielsen Ratings for cable business networks, just as Fox News is on top for cable news channels.

Almost DailyBrett believes that competition makes everyone better, and contends that CNBC can take full advantage of the opportunity that comes from adversity.

Can’t Quantify PR?

Working for the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) in the mid-1990s, your author as director of communications was interviewed each month on the chip industry’s book-to-bill ratio … or what is the relationship between the booked orders and the already billed orders.

One always wanted the former to be higher than the latter.

As a director of Corporate Public Relations for LSI Logic, Almost DailyBrett booked our CEO Wilf Corrigan on CNBC whenever we had good news to report, provided the markets were open and trading.

One particular time our stock was trading at $86 per share when the interview began. Three-or-more minutes later (an eternity on television), LSI Logic shares had jumped to $89 per share or x-millions more in market capitalization (number of shares x stock price)

And who says, you cannot quantify effective public relations?

The direction of a company’s shares can head to the north, but to the south as well, thus resulting in the term for a stock being a volatile, “Dow Joneser.”

Recently saw a sell-side analyst explaining on CNBC why he downgraded Nike from a buy to a hold with a lower sales target … the stock sold off during the interview. That is the awesome power of an analyst being interviewed on a financial news network.

Almost DailyBrett contends from years as a loyal viewer that CNBC covers real news: What’s happening with global markets, consumer spending, newest gadgets and gizmos, trade wars, Brexit, Federal Reserve rate hikes or cuts/quantitative tightening or quantitative easing ….

Is CNBC perfect? Far from it. Yours truly rolls his eyes whenever yet another report focuses on East Coast dino-tech legends General Electric (GE) or Itty Bitty Machines (IBM). The former is Sears in drag, and the latter is just a few steps further back on the same bridge to nowhere.

Having said that, there is a healthy consistency that comes from Bob Pisani from the floor of the NYSE and Bertha Coombs from the NASDAQ.

Who can avoid smiling when Jim Cramer is throwing bulls and bears on “Mad Money?” David Faber (a.k.a. “The Brain) is always solid with his reporting.

Carl Quintanilla, Morgan Brennan and John Fortt are especially credible with the coverage of technology to start the day. Wilfred Frost and Sara Eisen put a capper on the trading day by hosting “Closing Bell” with Michael Santoli providing analysis of the just competed trading day.

If you want wall-to-wall about what is wrong with the relationship between Donald and Nancy, there are networks, which can provide you with all the gory details on a 24/7/365 basis. Go for it.

And if you can’t wait for another update on the no talent Kardashian family, CNBC is not your cup of tea … and never will be. Thank the good Lord.

https://news.gallup.com/poll/211052/stock-ownership-down-among-older-higher-income.aspx

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-amount-of-americans-not-saving-for-retirement-is-even-worse-than-you-thought-2017-02-21

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/08/business/economy/stocks-economy.html

https://www.cnbc.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CNBC

https://www.forbes.com/sites/markjoyella/2018/10/02/lou-dobbs-maria-bartiromo-lead-fox-business-to-big-ratings-win/#4e449fd924bf

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/12/20/how-fox-news-keeps-on-winning-the-ratings-war/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does every image portraying Millennials always include a smart phone or does it just seem that way?

Soon – if not already – Millennials will be the world’s largest-ever generation.

Pew Research projects they will bypass the Baby Boomers as America’s most populous next year, not a moment too soon.

Millennials already are saluted and celebrated for being the planet’s most educated, caring and experiential generation.

This distinction favorably compares those born between 1980-2000 with their immediate predecessors: the nondescript, desultory X-Gens (1965-1980), and the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll Worst Generation, The Baby Boomers (1946-1964).

Is it fair — let alone accurate — for Almost DailyBrett and presumably thousands of other societal observers to instantly equate noses buried in a smart phone or other digital device when discussing, assessing and critiquing Millennials?

In the last two years of my face-to-face teaching tenure, your author has required Millennial students to put their phones into the “penalty box” during the course of graded classroom presentations or face the consequences of a game misconduct or worse, league suspension.

At first, the reaction was one of shock, horror and withdrawal. How can you take away the 21st Century equivalent of the teddy bear or security blanket?

Gasp …”What about my Snap, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram … accounts?”

“Can I visit and … even pet my smart phone during breaks in-between presentations? Pretty please with whipped cream and a cherry on top?”

Something magical happened when student devices were in the penalty box … the presentations were not only better; the follow-up questions from the audience were relevant. The reason: Student attention was focused, not divided.

Yes, these digital natives can actually live … for short periods of time … without the binary code of digital communications.

The Serendipity of Moore’s Law

The number of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit doubles every 18-24 months – Paraphrase of Intel co-founder Gordon Moore’s 1965 “Moore’s Law

Almost DailyBrett remembers being asked as the director of communications for the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) in 1994, whether Moore’s Law would still be intact in 2000.

The media question seems almost silly now. Moore’s Law is alive and well a generation later.

What does Moore’s Law have to do with Millennials? Everything,.

As a result of Moore’s Law, every subsequent generation of gizmos is more functional, more powerful, faster, smaller and consumes less energy than its predecessor. The smart phone, tablet, VR, AR or whatever device being used by Millennials is at least the 22nd iteration of the technologies available 1965.

Without any doubt, Millennials are the first generation, comprised of digital natives. If a Baby Boomer needs tech support, it is better to first talk to a … Millennial.

Should we care if Millennials are characterized by the device in hand? Should Millennials lose sleep over this perception and/or metaphorical portrayal?

Just think, driving is improved when one is not jabbering on the phone, much less sending and responding to text messages.

Almost DailyBrett reported about the book by MIT prof Sherry Turkle: “Alone Together, Why We Expect More From Technology And Less From Each Other.”

And what do we find on the book cover? What appears to be Millennials consumed with their smart phones.

Turkle’s main thesis is we have become a society — much more than Millennials alone — which can be physically present with living, breathing people, each with a pulse, and you would never know it because everyone is consumed with their own Bitmoji digital world.

There is good news for Millennial public relations practitioners and bad news.

The positives: There are more algorithmic tools than ever to micro-target and instantaneously communicate with virtually anyone of this planet in two-nanoseconds or less.

The negatives: Good luck breaking through to Millennials, who are addicted to their devices and rarely if ever come up for air.

As the author of Almost DailyBrett prepares to celebrate another happy class of Millennials graduating tomorrow, we need to be reminded that when it comes to Millennial metaphors, sometimes perception is indeed reality.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/01/millennials-overtake-baby-boomers/

http://www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/pages/millennials/

http://alonetogetherbook.com/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/the-worst-generation/

“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

 

 

 

Exactly 279 days after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre one can still purchase and play the video game, Kindergarten Killers.

Just this week, we learned that DC Navy Shipyard sniper, Aaron Alexis, played Call of Duty and Zombie video games up to 16-hours a day. That fits the classic definition of an obsession.

The media is starting to become vigilant about the impact of particular video games, just as it has frequently critiqued the reported 300 million firearms in this country, suggesting both are the telltale signs of a violent society.

It seems that the right is protecting the $11.7 billion (US) firearms and ammunition industry, and the left is shielding the $68 billion (worldwide) interactive entertainment industry.

One hides behind the Second Amendment (Right to Bear Arms) of the United States Constitution. The other points to the First Amendment guarantee of free speech.

The question that needs to be asked as one tragedy follows another horrific event, is this really a mutually exclusive exercise?

navyyard

Before Almost DailyBrett says anything further on this question, let me first state that I support background checks, limitations on detachable magazines, and registration of any-and-all firearms. I have never cared for guns, and I doubt that I ever will.

When I was the press secretary for former California Governor George Deukmejian, I was proud to be a small, vocal part of the effort that led to California banning assault weapons. As the governor said at the time, he saw absolutely no reason why someone needs an AK-47, AR-10 or M-16 assault weapon to simply go hunting.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) under the direction of Wayne LaPierre vehemently and vocally disagreed with our decision. The NRA was wrong then. It is wrong now.

Let me also go on the record that I rarely play video games, albeit I was attempting to play bass and sing last Saturday night for an after dinner game of Rock Band. When my daughter was young, I would join her for a round of Croc, ending up in the hot lava every time.

More to the point, I am supportive of the First Amendment but recognize there are limits. Yelling “Fire” in a crowded theatre is the oft-repeated limitation to the constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech.

Should the government come down on the video game (interactive entertainment) industry to ban violent video games? My libertarian tendencies tend to not want to encourage even more government incursion into free markets.

Having said that, I agree with Ohio State Professor of Communications Brad Bushman when he stated that, “These games aren’t harmless.”

During the course of my career I have served two nationwide trade associations, first as the Vice President of Public Affairs for the American Forest Resource Alliance (AFRA) and later as the Director of Communications for the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA).

These two trade associations, trees and chips, and many others just like them represent entire industries and the companies that are association members. Most are located in Washington, D.C. and represent (e.g., lobby) the points of view of their members. The NRA is a lobbying organization. Ditto for the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) under Michael Gallagher.

The NRA has adopted a stance of precluding any camel from sticking its nose under the gun industry and ammunition tent. It even points to the interactive entertainment industry to deflect blame from guns.

The Entertainment Software Association may actually benefit from having such a high-impact enemy in the form of LaPierre and the NRA, but it still has a problem. Are game developers and manufacturers turning a blind eye on the Adam Lanza’s (Newtown killer) and Aaron Alexis’ of the world, who were obsessed with these games and guns?

videogamesviolence

What about violent movies? One could reply that movies are passive, while game players are active in their use of simulated weapons. Killing “people” becomes somehow, enjoyable.

The interactive entertainment industry has an ongoing public relations issue that most likely will intensify with each shooting in which the sniper was spurred on by gratuitous violence video games. Yes, there is a correlation and more to the PR point: There is a definitive and growing public perception of these over-the-top violent games.

Will hiding behind the First Amendment solve the problem? After all, the executive branch, Congress and the courts won’t impede the First Amendment rights of those who concoct and develop Kindergarten Killers. Right?

Do they (video game developers) want to wait and find out?

Almost DailyBrett embraces the notion of “Manage or Be Managed.”

It is time for the ESA to set standards for its members about violent content, clearly recognizing when a game goes too far. Merely, putting ratings on the side of the game is obviously not enough. Video games can obviously be addictive. What can be done about that? Is there a role here for social marketing?

videogames

The industry needs to take a proactive stance to not only protect its collective livelihood, but also to do the right thing in the face of these senseless killings. Something was clearly wrong with Aaron Alexis as evidenced by him playing video games for 16-hours a clip, and then heading out to the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. heavily armed.

Could video games have contributed to this tragedy? That seems obvious.

The industry has the opportunity to self-regulate or manage itself. The NRA is beyond that, and has adopted a confrontational point of no return.

One would think the ESA does not want to follow in the NRA’s footsteps.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10314585/Aaron-Alexis-Washington-navy-yard-gunman-obsessed-with-violent-video-games.html

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/entertainment/2013/09/dont-blame-violent-video-games-mondays-mass-shooting/69499/

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/18/opinion/bushman-video-games/?hpt=hp_t2

http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2012/12/21/kindergarten_killers_nra_s_wayne_lapierre_blames_violent_video_games_for.html

http://www.kotaku.com.au/2012/12/so-who-made-kindergarten-killer-anyway/

http://www.igda.org/

http://www.theesa.com/about/leadership.asp

http://vgsales.wikia.com/wiki/Video_game_industry

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/19/seven-facts-about-the-u-s-gun-industry/

http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/28/us/connecticut-shooting-documents/index.html

http://www.meetthenra.org/nra-member/wayne-lapierre

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/manage-or-be-managed/

 

 

Suppose an industry staged an annual forecast and awards dinner (e.g., SIA on November 29), and virtually no one gave a particle?

Considering that I worked directly for the Semiconductor Industry Association for two years, and later for a company run by one of its founders for a decade, it is difficult for me to say this, but I must: Semiconductors are now (and maybe forever) a taken-for-granted commodity.

sleepingaudience1

Would you like some salsa with your chips?

Yes, they power every digital and the remaining analog gadget under the sun just like ground beef, chicken or carnitas are essential for making tacos, burritos and enchiladas. Everyone knows this.

So what else is new?

The semiconductor industry is going to be flat this year at $300 billion. It seems like the industry is always at $300 billion. I wrote a speech in 1996 projecting a $300 billion industry in 2000 or 12 years ago for those of you scoring at home.

One company, Wal-Mart alone at $464 billion in revenues (and growing) is larger than the entire chip industry. This is not news.

Earlier this month, the stately Economist published a cover piece “The Survival of the biggest; The internet’s warring giants” about Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google with peripheral mention of Microsoft.

What happened to Intel, let alone AMD?  They didn’t even make the cutting-room floor.

What happened to the wonders of (Gordon) Moore’s Law (intellectual property content doubling on the same-sized piece of silicon real estate every 18-24 months)? Anyone want to hear that story for the umpthteen time?

What happened to the epic tales of the fight against the evil predatory-pricing, two-headed monster in the form of Japan’s “Business is War” government/industry?

All these stories are now contained in a coffee table book coming to a deep-discount rack near you.

The “Mass Intelligence” Economist references the great technology fights of yesteryear: IBM and Apple in the 1980s in PCs, and Microsoft and Netscape in the 1990s in web browsing. The U.K. popular “newspaper” displays a map, vaguely similar to England, Normandy, Bavaria, Prussia und Dänemark.

England is the “Empire of Microsofts.” Normandy is “Appleachia.” Bavaria is “Google Earth.” Prussia is “Fortress Facebook.”  Dänemark is “Amazonia.” There are small islands occupied by RIMM (Research in Motion) and Nokia, and a nest dedicated for microblogging, “Eyrie of Twitter.” The lowly chip is nowhere to be seen on this map or in the expansive article. Intel is not even afforded a shrinking iceberg.

Some may want to dismiss my musings contending that I am only focusing on one article in one magazine, albeit an incredibly influential publication. They will say the article can be seen as a mere anecdote. These critics could be correct. However, in this case I humbly opine the anecdote represents a trend. For the metaphor types: It is the sick canary inside the mine.

Certainly, there are 250,000 Americans employed in semiconductor innovation and (some) manufacturing. With all due respect to the engineering types in particular, they are mere role players. They are throwing the screens and opening up holes in the line for the superstars: Tim Cook of Apple, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Larry Page of Google.

The chip is essential, but so is the sun. They are everywhere. The sun is there. What is commanding attention are mobile platforms and the software that makes them do what they do. Algorithms über alles!

algorithms

Rarely did a day go by in the 1990s and the post-Bubble era when the San Jose Mercury, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times (not suggesting equivalency of influence) would write another gushing, fawning piece about “The Chip Giant,” Intel. No one could accuse the media of shorting the stock.

Today, Intel is trading at $20.52 with a market cap of $101 billion. Ten years ago on this date, the company’s stock traded at $17.58…sounds like a good stock to avoid. Even with all angst, Sturm und Drang about Facebook’s IPO FUBAR, the company still commands a $28.24 stock price and $60 billion in market capitalization. All things considered, this is not bad for a company publicly traded only since May 18 and which was founded in a Harvard dorm room less than one decade ago. If only Intel could grow this fast.

Don McLean in American Pie asked: If the music would ever play again? For the chip industry, the band could start playing if the industry starts growing again; if it comes up with a new way of making chips (e.g., nanotechnology); if it spearheads a new revolution. Incremental changes won’t cut it. And staying stuck in neutral at $300 billion will elicit the same yawns but only 10 years down the road.

Silicon Valley is called “Silicon Valley” for a particular reason that was germane decades ago. Let’s just hope no one seriously suggests changing the name to “Algorithm Valley.”

http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4374705/SIA-expects-flat-chip-sales-in-2012-

http://data.cnbc.com/quotes/WMT

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21567355-concern-about-clout-internet-giants-growing-antitrust-watchdogs-should-tread

http://www.economist.com/news/21567361-google-apple-facebook-and-amazon-are-each-others-throats-all-sorts-ways-another-game

http://www.sia-online.org/events/2012/11/29/public-event/35th-annual-sia-award-dinner/

http://www.lyrics007.com/Don%20McLean%20Lyrics/American%20Pie%20Lyrics.html

“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

%d bloggers like this: