Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Warren Buffet States the Obvious

This sort of occurred to me when I first read it:

Warren Buffett says Apple has been too secretive about the health problems facing CEO Steve Jobs ...

"If I have any serious illness, or something coming up of an important nature, an operation or anything like that, I think the thing to do is just tell the American, the Berkshire shareholders about it. I work for 'em. Some people might think I'm important to the company. Certainly Steve Jobs is important to Apple. So it's a material fact. Whether he is facing serious surgery or not is a material fact ..

It's all well and good to be a control/secrecy freak, but there's a time when your passion for keeping everything buttoned up tight could very well violate the rights of the company's freaking owners.

At least, Warren seems to think so.


Anonymous said...

I disagree. It's his own private business. Money isnt everything.

Anonymous said...

And you're wrong, Anonymous. Would it be Jobs' private business if he were secretly retiring from the company? Hardly.

Apple was erratic and rapidly becoming irrelevant before Jobs came back. Since he's been back the company has reinvented itself. It's well known he's the primary driver at Apple, and he's arguably more important to Apple than the vast majority of major company CEOs are to their companies. Steve Jobs IS Apple, and I'd hesitate to invest in the company if he were out of the picture.

But as brilliant as he is, he's also as arrogant as they come, and there's a long history of his not thinking the usual rules apply to him. Buffet is right about this.

Steve Hulett said...

Anon. #1, what Buffet is getting at is that Apple, by withholding info about its CEO, the company is breaking the law.

You would be right that Jobs could keep his illness to himself ... IF he weren't the Chief Executive Office of a publicly traded company, but he is.

Therefore, it's a no-no.

g said...

Yes, but it was publicly reported that he would be stepping down from day to day business decisions for 6 months due to an illness. What the illness is, and what procedures hes having, is no one elses business but Steve and his families.

If he had kept the fact he wasnt at work for 6 months a secret, Buffett would be right. As it is, he's just trying to make something out of it, and in my opinion, it's distasteful.

I mean, what if it had been something embarrassing? Like penile cancer? Would he still be obligated by law to report he had this disease since Apple is publicly traded? The line's gotta be drawn somewhere, and in my opinion "medical leave" is as detailed as it needs to be. The money changers can speculate from there.

(ps, I was the first anonymous)

Anonymous said...

Jobs had end-stage liver disease, which the company minimized and hid as long as it could. Then he had a liver transplant, which has a fairly high complication and fatality rate. Now he's in recovery from that transplant, a process that takes a lot longer than 6 months, and from which there is no full recovery. For as long as he lives, his body will be trying to reject the transplant, and the anti-rejection medications have major side effects. It's unlikely he'll ever have the energy and drive he had before all this happened.

It's not 'money changers' (what a loaded and religious term - funny you would use that) who have had to speculate. It's anyone who invests in the company, which is a whole lot of us.

The fact that Apple, rather than announcing a strategy for all the likely outcomes of Jobs' illness, surgery, and recovery, has minimized and hidden all this is worrisome. Apple and Jobs seem to be hoping for the best possible outcome, without planning for anything else. That's irresponsible.

Look back at the way Disney stumbled around for years and years after Walt died. There were no real plans for succession, no one ready to step in and take the reins. Is that what Apple is headed for?

Frankly, as an investor in Apple and a buyer of Apple products, it seems to me the company is already less innovative over the last 9-12 months than they've been since Jobs came back. Coincidence? I have no clue, we'll have to see. But anyone who thinks Jobs will ever be the force within the company that he was is probably engaged in wishful thinking.

g said...

I didnt intend "money changers" to have a religious connotation. Im as atheist as it gets

Anyway, I guess we just disagree. And thats cool

Anonymous said...

The rest of Buffet's comments on the bush economic debacle are more fascinating. 8 years of doing nothing except spending put the U.S. taxpayer in a position to have to either spend more to dig our way of of bush's mess, or let the U.S. economy fail (as the neo-cons and wingnuts of their fringe favored).

Buffet is right, of course.

As far as Jobs goes, they've had to report in detail to the Apple board of directors, and they vote as to whether or not it needs to be made public. Unless the bylaws of the board are changed, they did nothing wrong. Standard operating procedure (not that I completely agree with it).

Anonymous said...

"money changers" is not a religious term, and who cares anyway?

It's 2 words from a bad translation of a translation of a collection of fairy tales by a homosexual king, King James.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting how polarizing this story is. The two camps are so sharply divided. Either it's Jobs' health, therefore it's his personal business, period-end of story...or it's an SEC violation of the most serious magnitude.

In fact it's both-and Buffett is right.

Let's be real: there's a very personal tragedy concerning the health of the world's most private, brilliant-and arrogant-corporate head since Howard Hughes. Even if Steve Jobs isn't a cuddly guy-and he isn't-who can't feel heartsick for his health trouble? And he's a one of a kind innovator of things we use and enjoy.
But due to the singular way he has always run Apple, it's not just a matter of keeping his near-death experiences totally secret but of misleading and probably dissembling about it. IMHO he may have been lying to himself as much as to his board which is understandable if you're looking death in the face and refusing to lie down for it or to alarm everyone. But any other company as highly valued and as dependent on a single executive as Apple is would never, ever get away with this. That's the legal reality of a publicly traded business, not a simple invasion of privacy.

Anonymous said...

BTW, I don't believe for a second that he's told the Apple board the complete unvarnished truth about his health. I suspect they're just as much in the dark as the NY Times is. "Hormone imbalance"? "Back at work end of June"? That's just Steve. What can the board do? Who knows if even his wife knows the whole story?

Anonymous said...

Is there a hard and fast law making it illegal to hide your health problems when youre a CEO of a publicly traded company, or is Buffett just trying to say so?

Anonymous said...

Nobody knows? Seems like the most important question to me...

Anonymous said...

Your question is answered in the cited article:

Buffett's repeated use of the phrase "material fact" indicates he may believe Apple violated the law by not disclosing that Jobs would be having the surgery.

The government defines a material fact as something that a reasonable investor would want to know when making an investment decision, and companies are required to disclose "material" information in a timely way

g said...

Ah, so I was right. There is no hard and fast law regarding the specifics of the health of the CEO

Seems like theres a lot of room for interpretation as to what is "material" information. One could argue (as I do) that saying your CEO has a serious medical condition, requiring 6 months leave of absence (plus seeing photos of a deathly thin Jobs), fulfills the criteria.

No one needs to know what part they cut out or put where, or more importantly, talk shit about the guy after hes back at work and recovering from serious surgery.

PS) my word verification was "thinout" which I find hilarious

Anonymous said...

"PS) my word verification was "thinout" which I find hilarious"

Absolutely. Doubly so if you've ever seen or better yet cared about anyone wasting away from cancer, right? LMAO!

Jesus Christ.

My word verification was "soulless"! What a coincidence.

Anonymous said...

"hilarious" isn't anywhere near a synonym for "coincidental" on any planet, grouchy one. YOU set yourself up but good. No remorse from me.

Choose your words so that they mean something if you don't want to be misunderstood and "demonized".
You have no problem using the basest (that means "lowest") profanity-learn the rest of the written language.

Or not. I'll stick by "soulless" from the evidence.

g said...

Ive got an idea. Go back, re-read the comments, and see who is sympathetic towards defending the privacy and rights of the sick. Me.

Also, go back and re-read and see who threw the first personal attack since they couldnt come up with a decent argument. You.

The end.

PS) I know "hilarious" and "coincidental" are not synonyms, but my intent was the same. I thought it was "funny" that we were talking about Steve Jobs sickness which caused him to lose weight. Many people use funny or hilarious as a word when they mean coincidental. At least they do where I live. Either way, it gives you no right to lash out the way you did and make personal attacks. And you oughta be ashamed for derailing this discussion with such pettiness. Im not remourseful at all either I told you to go fuck yourself, because you deserve it, and i bet most would agree with me

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