There's No Question Now: Apple is Dead
Anybody who sees my frequent Twitter exchanges with Jon Fortt of CNBC knows how much I respect the guy. There's no better tech reporter in all of tech. And he's a good guy. I can vouch for this on the basis of our limited public and personal conversations.
That said, he's missing the larger -- and more important -- point on why the company's decision to tie the size (hence, value) of upper management's stock option packages to S&P 500 performance is so tragic. This is not only a rebuke of Steve Jobs and the Apple way -- the very essence of what made Apple the world's greatest company -- it's a perverse validation of Wall Street and the stock market. As if Wall Street should play any role whatsoever in determining how much anybody from the CEO to the cleaning crew at Apple makes.
I don't agree that it's in the ballpark. In fact, it's not even in the same league. Do a Google search for "Steve Jobs backdated options" and, after a small bit of memory refreshing, I think you'll agree.
But, we're not playing Pepper here. Fortt still has a point.
There's no question it sounds so great to hear the mantra shouted: Tim Cook wants his pay tied to his performance! . Here he is playing the role of shareholder's best friend again.
First, it's an easy move to make when you're already rich beyond comprehension. The most recent take by Cook and his colleagues hits in the multi millions, according to an SEC document tied to the options restructuring. Of course, there's nothing wrong with that. It's how these guys get paid. It's perfectly explainable. On the up and up. But, again, you're putting compensation at risk that's little more than icing on an already badass cake.
Second, don't buy the superficiality of the argument that this is good for shareholders because Apple brass now has real incentive to see the stock price rise. Tied to the first point, this is not real, true incentive. This is akin to the author Barbara Ehrenreich seeing how it feels to work minimum wage jobs in Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America or an activist "experiencing" homelessness for a few nights.