Tech’s worst CEOs

 ·15 May 2012

While Yahoo’s recent fiasco with now-former CEO, Scott Thompson’s qualifications may seem like a big oversight to make while facing management, Forbes puts things into perspective – showing that things can be far worse.

Forbes’ Adam Hartung does not mince any words while listing America’s five worst CEOs who have done their companies no favours operating today’s market.

“These five [CEOs], frequently honored for their position, control of resources and personal wealth, they are doing horrific damage to their companies, hurting investors, employees, suppliers and the communities that rely on their organizations,” said Forbes.

Tech and IT companies dominate the listing, with three of the five CEOs mentioned operating in that field.

Forbes based the list on looking at the companies in question’s stock performance over the last decade, as well as the decisions the reigning CEOs made in order to keep up with an ever-changing market.

5. John Chambers, Cisco Systems.

John Chambers has been CEO of Cisco since 1995, and saw the company’s stock peak at $70 per share in 2001, in the midst of a tech and networking boom, according to Forbes.

“Since then a combination of recessions that cut corporate IT budgets and a market shift to cloud computing has left Cisco scrambling for a strategy, and growth,” it said.

Chambers has since failed to breathe new life into the company, seeing the Cisco stock price halve and halve again; currently trading at around $17.

“Chambers has reorganized the company 3 times – but it has been much like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Lots of confusion, but no improvement in results.”

4. Jeffrey Immelt, General Electric (GE).

According to Forbes, Immelt’s place on the list is justified by his failure to do what needed to be done to push the company forward- saying that, previously, GE was known for entering, changing and disrupting markets.

This is something which the company has not done in recent years, under Immelt. “He has steered the ship away from trouble, but it’s only gone in circles as it’s used up fuel,” said Forbes.

“GE stock reached $60 in 2000. Which turns out to have been the peak, as GE’s value has gone nowhere but down since Mr. Immelt took the top job,” Forbes continued.

“Immelt has no vision to propel GE’s growth, and should have been gone by 2010, rather than allowed to muddle along with middling performance.”

3. Mike Duke, WalMart.

Mike Duke moved from the position of head of WalMart International to CEO in 2009, starting up a widely-reported scandal involving bribing foreign officials. A fact, Forbes said, that should have been enough to see him booted.

But even moreso, is the CEO’s lack of sufficient adaptation to the changing retail market.

“The entire retail market is shifting, with much lower cost on-line companies offering more selection at lower prices. And increasingly these companies are pioneering new technologies to accelerate on-line shopping with easy to use mobile devices,” Forbes said.

“WalMart has largely eschewed the on-line world as its CEO has doggedly sticks with WalMart doing more of the same.”

“WalMart needs an entirely new strategy to remain viable – and that will not come from Mr. Duke,” said Forbes.

2. Edward Lampert, Sears Holdings.

Since taking over at the company, Lampert, an investor and a billionaire in his own right, has seen the company’s stock boost to $170 and plummet down to $30, with Forbes saying that he never really had any idea how to create value in the company.

“Once the most critical force in retailing, since Mr. Lampert took over Sears has become wholly irrelevant,” said Forbes.

“Mr. Lampert has destroyed Sears. The company may already be so far gone as to be unsavable…Mr. Lampert had no idea, from the beginning, how to create value from Sears,” Forbes said.

1. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft.

Despite massive personal wealth, and being handed Microsoft when its stock peaked at $60 per share in 2000 as he took over from Bill Gates – Forbes describes Steve Ballmer as “without a doubt…the worst CEO of a large publicly traded American company.”

Forbes explained that Ballmer’s position as worst CEO was due to leading Microsoft out of some of the fastest growing and most lucrative tech markets – such as mobile music, handsets and tablet – and in the process sacrificed growth and profits.

This also impacted other companies such as Dell, Hewlett Packard and even Nokia, according to Forbes.

“The reach of his bad leadership has extended far beyond Microsoft when it comes to destroying shareholder value – and jobs,” it said.

“Years late to market, he has bet the company on Windows 8 – as well as the future of Dell, HP, Nokia and others. An insane bet for any CEO – and one that would have been avoided entirely had the Microsoft Board replaced Mr. Ballmer years ago,” concluded Forbes.

Source: Forbes

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