8 Tech Execs Whose Trash-Talking Blew Up In Their Faces

8 Tech Execs Whose Trash-Talking Blew Up In Their Faces

Kevin McLaughlin | May 15, 2013, 9:33 PM | 8,371 | 4

Tech execs just love mixing it up with their rivals. Maybe it has something to do with the lack of sleep they get, or the drudgery of spending large portions of their lives making and giving PowerPoint presentations. Whatever the reason, when tech execs trash-talk other companies’ products, sometimes it backfires. Some products that are belittled end up being hugely successful. Other times, the exec who’s doing the trash-talking ends up getting fired, or his or her company falls on rough times. In some cases, executive trash-talk ends up being factually inaccurate. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer laughed at the iPhone when Apple introduced it. He also predicted the iPad would not have much success. Obviously, neither prediction panned out. We’re not going to include Ballmer’s trash-talking about Apple, since it’s pretty much common knowledge at this point. But others have done the same or worse …

Ex-HP CEO Leo Apotheker Questions Wisdom Of iPad Usage

Leo Apotheker, whose 9-month reign as HP CEO was full of turmoil, was convinced that Apple’s iPad was just a passing fad that wouldn’t have a lasting impact in businesses. “I saw someone using an iPad with a keyboard. Why would you want to carry that when you could carry a laptop?” Apotheker said in an interview with AllThingsD’s Walt Mossberg at its D9 conference in June 2011.  Millions of people who’ve been lugging around iPads instead of notebooks since then would disagree. Apple sold 19.5 million iPads last quarter and sold 22.9 million the quarter before that. Almost every Fortune 500 company is using iPads in some capacity. Meanwhile, HP’s TouchPad had a brief six-week run in the market, and Apotheker was shown the door in September 2011. Apple’s Phil Schiller Says Android Devices Don’t Measure Up To iPhone

Apple execs don’t trash-talk much. But Phil Schiller, Apple’s VP of marketing, departed from the norm in March when he told The Wall Street Journal  that the Android user experience just doesn’t measure up to the iPhone.

He also said Apple’s iPhone 5 is “still the best display of any smartphone.”

Schiller then headed to Twitter, warning Android users to “Be safe out there…” and linking to a report from security vendor F-Secure about growing threats to Android devices.

Problem is, iPhone 5 sales haven’t been as stellar as previous iPhones. Jefferies analyst Peter Misek, in a February research note, said iPhone 5 sales were “decelerating faster than expected” and that Apple had cut orders from 40 million to 30 million.

Meanwhile, Android sales are chugging along. According to Gartner’s data for the first quarter of 2013, Android smartphones accounted for nearly 75 percent of the market, compared to 18 percent for runner-up Apple.

Oracle CEO Ellison Says SAP Is Delusional Over HANA

SAP is one of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s favorite punching bags. In March 2012, Ellison kicked some sand in the direction of SAP’s HANA in-memory database, one of its hottest selling products.

“When SAP, and, specifically [SAP co-founder] Hasso Plattner, said they’re going to build this in-memory database and compete with Oracle, I said. God, get me the name of that pharmacist, they must be on drugs,” Ellison said in a conference with analysts.

SAP Co-CEO Bill McDermott told AllThingsD in January that SAP had over 1,000 HANA customers and that the product was on track to become the “fastest growing software product in the history of the world.”

SAP says HANA revenue grew from around $205 million in 2011 to more than $504 million in 2012.

While one analyst has quibbled with SAP’s HANA calculations, there is no denying that this is a product that could make Ellison eat his words.

VMware Exec Apologizes To Microsoft For Bashing Virtualization Software

VMware and Microsoft have been squabbling for years over whose virtualization software is better. In June 2009, Scott Drummonds, a technical marketing manager at VMware, got a bit carried away and ended up having to apologize to his bitter rival.

Drummonds was involved in a VMware video posted to Youtube that showed Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualization software, which allows one server to do the work of many, crashing under heavy usage. The video also suggested that weakness in Microsoft’s software was the cause of outages in Microsoft’s developer community websites.

Microsoft went ballistic and demanded VMware take down the video. Drummonds complied and offered a mea culpa.

“Unfortunately, my intention to stir the pot with eye-poking banter has put my credibility and by association VMware’s credibility in question among some of you. For this I apologize,” Drummonds wrote in a blog post.

HP Exec Predicts TouchPad Will Crush Apple and Google Tablets

Eric Cador, a 28 year HP vet who resigned in March, got carried away during the run-up to HP’s TouchPad release in May 2011.

At a press conference in Cannes, Cador — who at the time was head of HP’s European PC and printer businesses — suggested that Apple, Google and other tablet makers should be worried about HP’s entry to the tablet space with the TouchPad.

“In the PC world, with fewer ways of differentiating HP’s products from our competitors, we became number one; in the tablet world we’re going to become better than number one. We call it number one plus,” Cador said in a May 2011 press conference in Cannes, as reported by The Telegraph.

Three months later, HP stopped selling the TouchPad and exited the tablet market.

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz Says Google Is A One-Trick Pony

In an April 2010 interview with the BBC, then-Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz predicted Google would have trouble in the future because its business was so one-dimensional.

“Google is going to have a problem because Google is only known for search,” Bartz told the BBC. “It is only half our business; it’s 99.9% of their business. They’ve got to find other things to do.”

Seems Bartz was suffering from a case of mobile myopia. Google doesn’t break out Android revenue, but some figures trickled out in documents from the Google-Oracle lawsuit in 2010.

In July 2010, Google had sold 20 million Android phones and forecast it would reach 40 million by the end of the year, generating around $278 million in revenue, The Verge reported last April.

If $278 million represents .01 percent of Google’s business, that doesn’t sound too bad.

Yahoo fired Bartz in September 2011.

Nokia Sales Chief To Samsung: Don’t Sleep On Lumia 920

About three weeks before Nokia launched its Lumia 920 smartphone, its top sales guy decided to let Samsung know it was about to get some stiff competition. This despite the fact that Samsung had just overtaken Nokia for the top spot in global mobile device shipments for the first time.

Samsung take note, next generation Lumia coming soon,” Chris Weber, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Nokia, tweeted last Aug. 15.

Nokia’s Windows Phone-powered Lumia 920 debuted to positive reviews. People were especially thrilled by the Lumia 920’s powerful camera. But their enthusiasm was dampened when Nokia admitted faking a demo video meant to showcase the capabilities of the camera’s PureView optical image stabilization technology.

This made Weber’s warning to Samsung seem kind of silly.

Dell Exec Calls iPads ‘Shiny’, Says IT Departments Don’t Want To Deal With Them

Dell’s Streak tablet, a 7-inch Android device, flopped in the marketplace. But last June, Joe Kremer, managing director of Dell Australia, told the Australian Financial Review that Dell wasn’t giving up on tablets.

Kremer also suggested that iPads have no place in businesses.

“People might be attracted to some of these shiny devices but technology departments can’t afford to support them,” Kremer told the Financial Review. “If you are giving a presentation and something fails on the software side it might take four days to get it up and running again. I don’t think this race has been run yet.”

Dell has a new tablet, the Windows RT powered XPS 10, but has already lopped $200 off its original $500 MSRP. Meanwhile, businesses are still buying iPads without the lure of discounts. So far, Kremer’s criticisms of the iPad are ringing hollow.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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