Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Businessweek has another interesting article on NetApp.
Here is the link http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/dec2005/tc20051227_828715.htm

Here are some interesting links:

People who know you know that you're outspoken on the topic of stock-option expensing. What are some of the other issues you feel passionately about?
Sarbanes Oxley. It may go a long way toward increasing shareholders' confidence in Corporate America, but it won't diminish fraud and other types of unethical behavior. New controls will just be abrogated the same way the old ones were.

Look at MCI and Enron. They're not being prosecuted based on new code. Those cases are based on laws that were already in place. So I really think it was a futile effort to try to legislate business ethics. And it has had a set of consequences that aren't helpful. For example, I used to have a much closer consultative relationship with our auditors, but you really can't do that anymore. You almost need a separate team of financial consultants so you can then go to your auditors and say, "Here's where we stand."

You shouldn't be able to control your auditors, but you ought to be able to ask their opinion -- to ask, "Is this something you'd support, or that you'd have a problem with?"

We used to do that all the time. Instead, our audit fees have doubled [since SOX was implemented], and the value derived has halved. So I think SOX took a terrific 10-year relationship we had with Deloitte & Touche and made it far less productive.

Is SOX an isolated problem, or is there a larger concern?
I think the whole attitude toward business in America these days is still suffering from the abuses of the bubble period. But the long-term consequences are that we will diminish America's competitiveness. You can see it through the brain drain. If you can't get the big options package here -- well, they don't have that problem in India or China. So I'm not sure the American people and politicians are thinking about this as a global issue.

I personally think we're heading right down the same track Europe has been on. They've got great education [systems] and excellent people, but name a successful European computer company? They've dampened the entrepreneurial spirit and the opportunity to create a highly successful enterprise. So my fear is that we're going to end up pushing a lot of investment and entrepreneurs to other countries that we really ought to be considering our competitors on the world stage. I'm glad I had my era when I did, because my son's era is going to be a lot tougher.

But isn't that a cop-out? You and other tech CEOs in your 50s have made your money, and yet you're for the most part just pointing to the problems rather than offering real solutions. Shouldn't your generation of CEOs be doing more?
You're right. I've made my money, and I can live happily after. But I don't think we're empowered to stand up. That may be a cop-out. But the attitude toward business is still pretty negative, particularly toward tech.

Perhaps Mr. Warmenhoven should read some Adam Smith to get some perspective for his views of capitalism.
"Every individual...generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention."

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