BusinessWeek

I couldn't help trip over BusinessWeek's cover story on Sun yesterday: "Sun: A CEO's Last Stand" -- complete with a dramatic, somber-looking photo of McNealy looking down and out, carefully shot and cropped to have the maximum negative impact. He could very well have just told a joke to 10,000 people and was looking down at his notes for the next "Top 10 List" item. But we all know the power of photography to capture a millisecond in time. This is an unfortunate, unfair editorial decision by BusinessWeek because it belies Scott's attitude in the article. In the article, he's in his usual fighting mode. I have to chuckle, though ... isn't it the media that always says we corporate types spin everything? This is very good marketing on BusinessWeek's part. Should sell very well on the newsstands.

How many "Sun-is-setting-last-stand" articles are reporters going to write about us? My goodness. Don't they get tired of piling on? Granted, we haven't performed well enough to thwart these pieces, and granted, the only thing that turns press like this around is financial success, but aren't we going just a tad over the top here? Scott does his fair share of admitting Sun's mistakes, and BusinessWeek gives him due credit for his many accomplishments. But what doesn't come through in the article is the many honorable, hard working people busy implementing some innovative new strategies to grow ourselves out of what we all agree is a tough position. Strategies I largely agree with -- especially our plan to open source Solaris, move more of our software to community-based development models, aggressively drive into desktop markets, and sell really fast Opteron servers. When we refine and fully implement these strategies, things could be altogether different.

BusinessWeek substantiates the piece early on with this bit:

"Through interviews with 38 current and former Sun executives, including nine departees on the record ... "

Ok, so does that mean 29 executive sources remain hidden? How brave of them.

Look, I'm a Sun employee and supporter. I believe in this place. I'm an advocate. But I don't follow anyone or any company blindly. Never have, never will. Internally, I argue over projects all the time. Scott encourages that. However, when I was in PR (for nine years at four companies in three industries), articles like this drove me nuts, especially when you are faced with two dozen un-named sources. I know how these pieces are put together and I know the game. It's still frustrating, though, and it still hurts.

Here's my only question, though: Will someone -- anyone -- please explain to me the justification for the very last sentence in the piece:

"Unless he [McNealy] pulls off a longshot turnaround, it may ultimately be a blow to Silicon Valley and even America's technological prowess."

A blow to America's technological prowess? Wow. That seems like a heavy weight to dump on Scott's shoulders. It's also a ridiculous conclusion that severely undermines the credibility of BusinessWeek's editorial.


Comments:

Way to go jim! I love digging on the media in my blog as well. They are often more self-serving than serving their audience. I read articles like this as "start with a conclusion, then try to prove it".

Posted by John Clingan on July 17, 2004 at 06:29 PM JST #

It sounds like a lot of the old "Apple's gonna die" articles that used to be rampant in the media.

Posted by Philip on July 18, 2004 at 10:16 AM JST #

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