What struck me most forcefully in the profile of Jack Ma, Financial Times person of the year, was not the Alibaba founder’s youth, his love of martial arts, or his against-the-odds subjugation of eBay, once the dominant force in Chinese internet auctions. It was this: what a failure he was.
As the FT’s Milan correspondent in the 1990s, I used to be a regular visitor to Palazzo Mezzanotte – the headquarters of the Italian stock exchange – an imposing 1932 building that its own website describes as “one of the architectural symbols of the Fascist era”. Given that history, if I were running Moncler, I probably wouldn’t have used this photo to publicise the first day of trading in my company’s shares – unless, of course, it is a deliberate Benetton-style attempt to shock.
Today’s prize is for a person, not for a word. It is awarded to a big-name CEO who in the course of 2013 has shown outstanding dedication to raising the jargon bar across all touch points.
Last year’s Chief Obfuscation Champion was John Chambers at Cisco who wrote the following lines in a memo to staff “We’ll wake the world up and move the planet a little closer to the future” – thus managing to be both banal and grandiose all at once.
This year there are four strong contenders for 2013 COC. I think my favourite is the last, though as I had never heard of him before, I’m not sure that he qualifies. Please tell me what you think. Your vote counts. Read more