Congratulations, Ed Zander. You’re featured on page A1 of this morning’s Journal, and the above headline is your money quote in the piece. “I love my job. I hate my customers.” With this quote your fate is sealed. They will carve this quote on your tombstone. Here lies Fast Eddie, the CEO who hated his customers.
See the problem is that if you love your job but hate your customers you end up having neither. Which is what is about to happen to you, Ed. Someone is working very, very hard to get rid of you. Put it this way: I hope you’ve got a food taster. And I’d stay away from parking garages late at night.
Who’s out to get Eddie? How did the Journal find all those insiders to say bad things about Ed, and reveal all those insidery stories that Motorola’s flacks had to try to defuse with their lame statements? Let me share a little secret with you about how the Wall Street Journal operates. First thing you have to know is that despite its big rep the Journal doesn’t actually go out and dig up stories. It sits in New York, like Jabba the Hut, and waits for people to feed stories into its maw. (The implied threat being that if you don’t play ball, Jabba will destroy you.)
Now here’s how to decrypt Journal stories and figure out who fed them the info. Look way down low in the story, for someone who’s barely mentioned. Who shows up at the end of the Zander story? Why, it’s Carl Icahn, corporate raider, who’s trying to take over Motorola. But if the Journal is to be believed, Mr. Icahn is so disinterested in this matter that the Journal doesn’t get to him until the very last paragraph of the story, almost as an afterthought. As the Journal hilariously puts it: “Mr. Icahn says he will closely monitor Mr. Zander’s performance and if the company is still struggling by the end of the year, the board should hold management accountable.” Ahem.
Also note which people “declined to comment” and which people didn’t. For example, Ron Garriques, the guy who used to run the cell phone division but was smart enough to scoot out of Motorola before the poop hit the spinning blades. He’s mentioned a lot in the story but every time he is, the sentence ends with “according to people familiar with the matter.” Nota bene the sentence that says, “Messrs. Zafirovski and Lynch declined to comment.” Why is Mr. Garriques not included in that list of Messrs who wouldn’t comment? Garriques is never quoted directly in the story but he’s mentioned enough that you know they must have called him. Yet nowhere does it say whether Mr. Garriques agreed or declined to comment.
Ed, you’re a street-smart guy from Brooklyn, so I’m sure you’ve figured this out on your own. Now you’re sitting there in beautiful Schaumburg, Illinois, like a clown in a dunk tank, about to take the fall. I guess by now you’ve also figured out that Apple screwed up the Rokr on purpose so we could wreck your business and pave the way for the iPhone. Sorry brother. It’s just business. It’s the Valley. Like the guy in the movie says, “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”