Saturday, December 26, 2009

Advice for CEOs

I feel very honored to be a member of the Enterprise Irregulars group - a very plugged group of people, with lots of hands-on knowledge and experience. I asked them what advice they'd like to give to enterprise solutions company CEO's, and I got the following fascinating list of suggestions.

Carol Bartz
  • Ya gotta know when to fold 'em, sometimes even the best poker players come up with a deuce/three offsuit.

Dave Duffield

  • Keep control. No more "got the moves" CEOs.

Eric Schmidt
  • Don't lose your newfound cash flow and cost cutting religion just because the needle is moving up and to the right again.
  • Enjoy. Really. Cut some costs if you can. Its all good.
  • Experiments are fun, but you are a one trick pony and don't have the same power to monopolize that market the way Microsoft did. Ad-supported revenue will die, so cannibalize yourself and diversify with meaningful revenue streams before someone else does it for you.

Jeff Bezos
  • Have a chat with Larry & Bill. See who wants to find the next greatest CEO for their company. Spin out retail under Zappos guy or someone else. And go be a computer industry God by continuing to simultaneously kick some serious butt - you are the only one who can take on Google (see Google Products & Checkout) and Apple (see music/books/devices) and stand your ground.
  • Keep on keepin on, no one does it better.
  • Love what you're doing with cloud computing, but 2010 might be the year to spin it off and let it go its own way.

John Chambers
  • Pay a dividend, recognize you're an awesome cash flow machine that's only going to grow via acquisitions.
  • You got game - keep delivering on Telepresence and revolutionalize the data center.

Karl and Pam Lopker
  • Talk to Vivek and follow the same advice.

Larry Ellison
  • IBM's multi-billion dollar mainframe business is ripe for the plucking with some juicy margins. Sell non-core Sun businesses, and do your magic. Your stock will be $30 before end of next year.
  • There's blood in the water, don't let up and keep pressing.
  • Your consolidation call was timely, and unbelievably effectively done, but 2010 is the year to take Oracle back to a path of innovation. Stop focusing so much on cost-cutting, and unleash some entrepreneurialism within Oracle to drive it to a $300B market cap.

Lars Dalgaard
  • While you still can, and the Street hasn't figured you out, use your ridiculously lofty valuation and goodwill to acquire the technology edge you don't have but many think you do.

Leo Apotheker
  • Take solace in the fact you got a chance to be CEO, most don't.
  • SAP could be a platform for business efficiency - think about providing services that are not software-oriented in 2010. How about doing (across multiple SAP customers) supplier scoring, credit rating, and other benchmarking offerings?

Marc Benioff
  • Religion only takes you so far, sell to Oracle now while you can.
  • Keep it up - you're doing great!

Mark Hurd
  • Call it a career, before HP starts trying to win (and fails) against the big boys. Oracle still has the valuation and capital to make it happen.

Sam Palmisano
  • Buy SAP while people still think it's a premium asset.

Steve Ballmer
  • Hire Jeff Bezos as your replacement by acquiring AWS for a ridiculous sum.
  • Keep up your fiscal discipline, break the company apart, and DON'T go acquisition crazy
  • Time to retire.

Steve Jobs
  • Keep those doctors on retainer, at least until the tablet revolutionizes home entertainment a la the iPhone has done with mobile computing.

Steve Singh
  • Keep it up, you've got the magic and don't need to sell.and don't be afraid of an aggressive acquisition spree.

Vivek Randive
  • If you get a legit offer, don't be too proud, sell and move on.

Zach Nelson
  • The sooner you're honest with yourself about what your company is and can be, the sooner the market will treat you with a modicum of respect.

Lots of great advice there from some really smart, experienced people. If you have any to add, just put in your comment below or at Thanks!

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