Felix Salmon

Board compensation datapoints of the day

Should there be some kind of cap on director compensation? The question arises in Duff McDonald’s Fortune profile of Rajat Gupta from October:

The secrecy of the FDIC, FOIA edition

Russell Carollo, of Mark Cuban’s JunketSleuth, has a great post up today about the way in which the FDIC aggressively rebuffs FOIA requests that other government agencies are happy to comply with. The FDIC has long been a hugely powerful and unaccountable arm of the government, and its letters to Carollo stink of arrogance and entitlement.

Eric Schmidt’s next act

Ken Auletta, who literally wrote the book when it comes to Google, has a must-read take on what exactly is going on with Eric Schmidt, and goes out on a limb by saying that his tenure in the weird job of non-CEO executive chairman will last just one year before Schmidt leaves to “do something else.” (This fits with reports that Schmidt is planning to sell a chunk of Google stock.)

Eric Schmidt and the job of non-CEO executive chairman

Ten years is a long time to be one of the most visible CEOs in the world, especially when the buck doesn’t really stop with you but rather with a triumvirate where you’re clearly the third wheel. So the news that Eric Schmidt is handing over the top job at Google to Larry Page makes a certain amount of sense. As he said on Twitter, Page has a decade’s experience as a senior executive of Google, and day-to-day adult supervision is no longer needed. Google’s venture-capital backers had every reason to want Page and Brin to bring in an experienced outside CEO in 2001. Today, most of those reasons no longer apply, and Google can be run by one of its two founders, in a world where founders, in general, beat out managers.

Can Rolling Stone claim Blankenship’s scalp?

Can Rolling Stone claim another scalp? Six months after ending the career of Stanley McChrystal, Rolling Stone published Jeff Goodell’s blistering, 7,600-word profile of Don Blankenship, the CEO of Massey Energy. Entitled “The Dark Lord of Coal Country,” it’s powerful stuff:

BNY Mellon’s massaged earnings reports

With Peter Eavis having left the WSJ, who will take on the job of poring over banks’ balance sheets to expose their crazy accounting? Aaron Elstein, that’s who! He pulls no punches today:

Why can’t HP’s board get over Hurd?

Are HP’s directors physically incapable of letting l’affaire Mark Hurd drop? Not only are their fingerprints all over the huge WSJ article on the subject today and Adam Lashinsky’s less exhaustive article in Fortune, but they’ve also decided to give the original letter accusing Hurd of impropriety to a San Diego law firm representing HP shareholders, making it certain that the letter will eventually become public. And it stands to reason that someone on the HP board was responsible for the bizarre NY Post story a couple of weeks ago claiming that Hurd had an affair with a Sun executive.

Horowitz defends HP

Ben Horowitz has published his first Siwoti post! That’s where you read something on the internet that is so wrong and misguided, you have no choice but to sit down and set the record straight.

Otiose shareholder of the day, B&N edition

Steven Davidoff goes into lots of detail today on the close-run fight between Ron Burkle and Leonard Riggio for control of three board seats at Barnes & Noble. It was a nailbiter of a vote, and informed opinion had it that Riggio, B&N’s founder, was going to end up the loser, despite controlling a large chunk of the outstanding shares. After all, the most powerful shareholder advisory firm, Institutional Shareholder Services, favored Burkle — and big investors like Vanguard and BlackRock generally follow ISS’s lead.