BAD Board! No Cookie! (9/30/02)

Wuh-oh, prepare for an influx of bad korporate karma! According to a Reuters article that went to press last week, BusinessWeek has just published its list of the eight worst boards of directors in corporate America-- and somehow Apple made the list. How much do you want to bet there was much rending of flesh and gnashing of teeth in the halls of Cupertino when that issue hit the stands? Or at least someone frowned slightly and shrugged before unwrapping their mid-morning Snickers bar.

We know what you're thinking-- "Was Apple's board added to the list before or after Larry Ellison scampered off to play with boats?" Okay, granted, Larry wasn't exactly a model director, what with missing all those meetings and owning literally no Apple stock. But lest you think that Loquacious Larry was the one dragging Apple's board down into the muck, consider this: Gap Inc.'s board of directors also ranked among the eight worst. And guess which mercurial double-CEO just happens to sit on Gap Inc.'s board as well as on Apple's? Ayup: the Stevester himself. Meaning, of course, that Steve sits on one quarter of the boards lousy enough to be featured in BusinessWeek's Rogue's Gallery of Ickiness. Suppose he's proud?

For what it's worth, though, BusinessWeek stopped short of actually equating the presence of the Inscrutable Mr. Jobs on a company's board of directors with the ranking of said board at the bottom of the heap. Gap's board, for instance, reportedly made the Ick List for "deals that included construction contracts with Chairman Donald Fisher's brother and a consulting deal with his wife," which, granted, looks pretty cheesy-- and wholly Jobsless in its impropriety. However, BusinessWeek does raise the issue of Jobs being on Gap's board while Gap's Mickey Drexler sits on Apple's, so there's definitely a Jobsian factor in there as well.

So why is Apple's board included? Well, the general criteria for ranking included "board independence" (Micro Warehouse's CEO is on Apple's board; Micro Warehouse "accounted for nearly 2.9% of Apple's new sales in 2001") and "stock ownership" (despite all those stock options, Steve-o still holds just two shares of AAPL), as well as factors like "granting hefty compensation to flailing CEOs" (coughGulfstreamcough). Whatever. At least Dell wasn't listed among the ten companies with the best boards, otherwise we imagine there'd be some contract hits being arranged on BusinessWeek's publishers right about now.

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The above scene was taken from the 9/30/02 episode:

September 30, 2002: Apple releases iSync on schedule-- sort of. Meanwhile, the company extends the iTools-to-.Mac signup deadline by two weeks as rumors swirl about a possible education price break, and Apple's board of directors is one of the eight worst in the country, according to BusinessWeek...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 3753: Getting An iSyncing Feeling (9/30/02)   Sure, we here at the AtAT compound may be bleary-eyed and sorely out of touch these days ("Is it Tuesday or March?"), but heck, even we know about iSync, that spifftabulous iApp demonstrated last July by a zenlike Steve Jobs as he effortlessly synchronized contact and calendar data between multiple Macs and a bevy of shiny Digital Lifestyle™ products with nary a care in the world...

  • 3754: Gotta Boost Headcount (9/30/02)   Say, remember a couple of weeks ago when Apple was crowing about how amazingly popular .Mac had turned out to be, what with a staggering 100,000 subscribers racked up since July? Well, if you found yourself thinking that a hundred grand actually sounded a little on the low side, you're not alone: as faithful viewer Jim Boulter pointed out, that's a pretty far cry from the oft-bandied-about figure of two million estimated iTools users that were out there before Apple suddenly donned its neon flashing PAY US hat...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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