This week one of the richest and most influential men in business and the world, Larry Ellison, founder and CEO of Oracle Systems, gave his opinion on corporate blogging. Well, at least he gave his opinion on one attempt at corporate blogging and it strikes right at the core of some things that the social media and Internet marketing communities claim as near and dear to their heart.
Ellison attacked what many have held up as one of the prime examples of a company creating content through executive blogs and more. In fact, he didn’t just attack it; he crushed it.
The focus is on the Sun Microsystems purchase that was completed in January of this year. Sun’s former CEO Jonathan Schwartz, who resigned his post with a tweeted haiku in February of this year, has gotten a lot of attention for his CEO level outreach through blogs. I have even admired it. A quote from Ellison though, makes it clear what his stance is on the matter. This comes from InformationWeek.
“The underlying engineering teams are so good, but the direction they got was so astonishingly bad that even they couldn’t succeed,” said Ellison. “Really great blogs do not take the place of great microprocessors. Great blogs do not replace great software. Lots and lots of blogs does not replace lots and lots of sales.”
Sun became the poster child for content creation that came from all parts of the company. Trouble is the company lost $2.2 billion last year so Mr. Ellison may have a point here. It’s like writing a journal while the Titanic sank. If someone actually read it there may be value but the bigger issue of impending death outweighs it by far.
I think Ellison views this corporate foray into blogging as if Schwartz is a modern day Nero. As Sun Microsystems crashed and burned around him he was blogging much like the Roman emperor played his lyre while Rome was being consumed by fire. I wonder how he feels about the efforts by Oracle execs to blog? Is that adding to the bottom line of Oracle these days?
So is this call for transparency and openness throughout companies really necessary if it doesn’t add to the bottom line? Or could it be argued that if there wasn’t the blogs that kept some Sun customers engaged that the company may have failed even more severely?
Were there any metrics in place to see what effect the culture of blogging at Sun had on the bottom line? If not, was this just a spectacular PR play that got people to pay attention to Sun’s willingness to “communicate” rather than concentrate on keeping the business afloat?
We would LOVE to hear from any current or former Sun bloggers or employees to get your take on this. There are more questions being posed here than answers so any help would be appreciated. Did this culture of blogging cover up a bad business plan that was doomed to fail despite some of the best engineering talent as Mr. Ellison claims or was it really just as exiting CEO Schwartz said in his farewell tweet.
Financial crisis/Stalled too many customers/CEO no more
I think if you asked Larry Ellison he’d tweet
Wrote too many posts / While company crashed and burned / There’s the door use it
So what’s your take and if you can give it in a 5/7/5 syllable format then you get extra points for having nothing better to do this fine day.