Monthly Archives: May 2011

John Gapper

The changes to director remuneration at Tesco following a shareholder rebellion last year are sensible enough. The interesting thing is the line they draw between entrepreneurial risks and rewards, and what directors of big companies should be paid. Read more

In 2008, Samsung ran a print advertisement picturing a lissom young couple next to a forest road. They have dismounted from their mountain bikes to tend to an injured young deer. Mr Lissom has unfurled a flexible electronic display from the side of his mobile phone and is consulting a website about first aid for fawns. Samsung researchers are “inventing new technologies one could only imagine”, the copy boasts, “so getting real-time interactive first-aid instructions for a wild animal at a moment’s notice becomes a real possibility”.

It was probably inevitable that when Nicolas Sarkozy invited the leaders of the world’s biggest technology companies and high representatives of Silicon Valley to Paris to mull over the future of the internet, a culture war would break out.

Andrew Hill

For my latest column about the ideal age and tenure for a chief executive, GovernanceMetrics International pulled from its database of 4,268 companies worldwide a list of the 16 oldest sitting chief executives in the world. (They did 16 so that Warren Buffett – undoubtedly the most famous, and the youngest, of this bunch – would appear in the ranking).

In the article, I only had room to refer to Buffett and Cubic Corporation’s Walter Zable, 95-year-old doyen of the group. So here is the full ranking by age, with company name and links to official corporate biographies, where available: Read more

John Gapper

I am in Paris with a group of leaders of internet and technology companies, all of whom have been asking the same question: What am I doing here? Read more

Many executives joke about being carried from the office in a box; few earn that right. Malcolm McAlpine was still involved in the day-to-day running of the construction company Sir Robert McAlpine at his death last week, aged 93 – 75 years after he joined the business.

John Gapper

The pop in shares in LinkedIn following its initial public offering last week has prompted a heated debate over the tactics of the bankers that underwrote the offering and whether they deliberately underpriced to benefit their favoured clients.

Joe Nocera of the New York Times opined on Saturday that LinkedIn was “scammed by its bankers”:

The fact that the stock more than doubled on its first day of trading — something the investment bankers, with their fingers on the pulse of the market, absolutely must have known would happen — means that hundreds of millions of additional dollars that should have gone to LinkedIn wound up in the hands of investors that Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch wanted to do favours for.

Nocera was backed by Henry Blodget of Business Insider, prompting a back and forth with The Epicurian Dealmaker on whether they knew what they were talking about. The debate was summarised by Felix Salmon in this postRead more

John Gapper

The 137 per cent surge in LinkedIn’s shares on the first day of trading – on a stock that was initially priced at 17 times last year’s estimated sales – is pretty much impossible to justify on normal financial measures and has led to talk of a new internet bubble.

I will not try to justify it because, as I wrote the other day in a column, valuing social networks is inherently a highly risky business – there is a history of others such as Friendster, Bebo and  MySpace flaming out despite high initial hopes.

Meanwhile, I agree with John Plender’s doubts about the dual share structure being adopted by networks including LinkedIn and Renren, which insures that the founders retain control while selling shares to the public.

Yet there are at least good reasons to believe that LinkedIn is a proper business – with more potential staying power than some of the consumer-oriented social networks. Whatever it is worth, I am at least hopeful that it will stick around. Read more