The Promised Land!

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Every once in a while, Narrative-world gives you a gift that just keeps on giving.

So it is with outgoing CEO Ginni Rometty’s regime of despair at IBM.

I mean, I haven’t even gotten to the billions of dollars frittered away on stock buybacks. We still haven’t seen the 8-k IBM will file after the close on a Friday afternoon detailing the tens of millions of dollars that the board will lavish on Rometty as she walks out the door.

I’ve already compiled all 167 of Rometty’s SEC Form 4s to figure out just how much money in stock comp alone she’s sucked out of IBM. The answer to our puzzle is over $100 million.

Once You Buy a Prize, It’s Yours to Keep

I’m not even going to count Rometty’s salary and annual cash bonuses. I’m not going to count the corporate jet. I’m not going to count the Augusta National membership and all that. Nope, you’ve gotta work hard to fritter away a national treasure like IBM into irrelevance, so let’s not begrudge the woman whatever tens of millions of dollars she’s been paid in cash comp  … Continue reading

But today my focus is on the IBM-sponsored hagiography that is springing up like slime molds on the underside of rotting swamp cabbages.

It starts with this:

Which is drawn from this:

Rometty’s Legacy: Leading to IBM’s Promised Land [Chief Executive]

Moses may have been able to see the Promised Land, but that doesn’t mean he could complete his mission to lead the people there. A different skill set was needed, and Joshua was selected. No one faults Moses for his time in the desert.

History will be equally kind to Ginni Rometty, the CEO of IBM. The company’s share price may have lagged rivals over the last few years, but inside the company—deep inside, where it counts—Rometty has transformed IBM in every possible way, setting the stage for a promising next chapter. IBM’s stock is up 25% just this past year.

Some cynical business media never quite got the story right, and it was eye opening that the same respected business voices who preach against short-termism were focused solely on the 4 percent jump IBM’s stock took on the news of Rometty’s retirement, rather than the foundation she’d laid for the years to come. So much for long-term investment, technological transformation, community impact and “ESG,” right?

— Yale professor Jeff Sonnenfeld, winner of the Epsilon Theory lifetime achievement award for narrative construction in service to the oligarchy, popularly known as The Renfield.

The author of this quite serious analysis where Ginni Rometty is favorably compared to … checks notes … MOSES, is none other than Yale professor Jeff Sonnenfeld, who is also the founder and leading light of the Chief Executive Leadership Institute, a non-profit “school for CEOs featuring applied research and peer-driven learning” that generates a multi-million dollar revenue stream for the Yale School of Management.

Would it surprise you to learn that Jeff Sonnenfeld works hand-in-hand with Chief Executive Group, a decidedly for-profit company that, among other things, runs the Chief Executive website that published Jeff’s little paean to Ginni Rometty?

Would it surprise you to learn that IBM is a major sponsor of Sonnenfeld’s Chief Executive Leadership Institute?

Would it surprise you to learn that Jeff Sonnenfeld presented Ginni Rometty with the … checks notes … Yale Lifetime of Leadership Award and the … checks notes, does a double-take, and checks notes again … Yale Legend of Leadership Award?

Yes, apparently the Yale Legend of Leadership Award is a real thing. And “prestigious”, too, according to Jeff’s hand-written Wikipedia entry.

Would it surprise you to learn that Jeff Sonnenfeld has been doing this stuff for literally decades, to the point where even the New York Post catches on to his act?

Being friends with Yale prof Sonnenfeld has its benefits [NY Post]

Three times in the past 16 months, Sonnenfeld has written opinion pieces or been quoted in the media supporting a company or CEO who was honored by his Chief Executive Leadership Institute or was a financial backer of his biannual CEO Summit, The Post’s research reveals.

None of the op-eds disclosed either the financial backing the companies supplied to the Sonnenfeld-led nonprofit or that CELI had honored their CEOs.

— by Josh Kosman and Michelle Celarier (April 15, 2015)

Actually, I would bet a lot of money that Nelson Peltz tipped off the NY Post to dig into the Sonnenfeld puff pieces around his DuPont activism, but still, good for them to publish this article five years ago.

Not gonna lie, I can’t wait to dig into the Form 990 for the Chief Executive Leadership Institute.

Like I say, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

One more thought on all this for today.

There is no structural difference between the “conspiracy theories” of Zero Hedge and the “serious opinions” of Chief Executive. The only difference is whether the constructed narrative supports the status quo or challenges the status quo.

And yet Zero Hedge is banned from Twitter for making up narratives from the flimsiest of “facts”, while Sonnenfeld and his fellow Renfields are celebrated for doing exactly the same thing.

Clear Eyes, friends. Clear eyes.


  1. Avatar for rwgood rwgood says:

    Professor Renfield is a frequent contributor to CNBC as well. Recently, Joe Kernan tweaked him on the subject of Jeff Immelt formerly of GE which is also laughable but the righteous indignation at the scofflaws who didn’t pay up is worse.

  2. …how much did IBM pay to flood Twitter with that story? Why would they do that? I was told by an IBM employee that they used their AI to search the internet for negative comments made about the company by current employees. Maybe IBM’s priorities were misguided while she was at the helm…

  3. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    Maybe! But that’s an “unproven claim”, Eric. We don’t traffic in those “conspiracy theories” here at Epsilon Theory! For shame!

  4. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    Exactly like that Renfield.

  5. Shouldn’t the Lifetime Award for Narrative Construction in Service to the Oligarchy be known as “The Hilsenrath”? Or is that for the honorable mentions?

  6. Oh, oh! Nope, got it. “The Krugman”

  7. I am watching a few clusters led by very smart minds who analyze facts and produce opinions about future conditions of socio-economic systems. Mostly these conditions are claimed to be bleak and existential. All of these clusters without exception are thinking of profiting from “chaotic” conditions anyway - in full knowledge it systematically and unfairly hurts a vast and weak majority of citizenry. Some bash the Fed in a manner what would make the reader think the guy is out of the market only to find out, upon confronting, that he’s also in on it - by all means, but why the false impression? All without exception seem to care about “the future generations in the great country of ours” while actively choosing to reside in seclusion. Not one, without exception, has translated these very powerful imaginations into a commensurate, concerted and equally powerful action. NOT EVEN AMONG EACH OTHER. I am talking about accomplished, experienced individuals who address several hundred thousand people in a go. Not one of these outputs has been translated into MLK type of march all the while claiming “oh, how so poorly the poor are doing”. Strike that - many of these clusters gather here and there annually to enjoy some conference or a fish where again the effort is directed at yapping an imagination of the future without lifting a finger to put the mental output into a LEGISLATION that will correct the “inevitable demise”. It’s a treason of self, a gross negligence. It’s a world in which DOJ itself requires a separate justice system to hold it accountable for inaction and timidity. And so it goes - article after article of self patting, not single one beginning with “guess what I did today, with what I know, that does not involve sitting”. There are worse, drunk with kool-aid, who eloquently order us to keep “inflated aspirations” in check as some things did not exist 30 years ago, while literally disregarding reasons, necessary to troubleshoot, of why tens of millions got deprived of a fundamental necessity like affordable shelter, a condition to almost everything else to have in life from partner to a child to a new gadget. In the face of these mental outputs even a terrible rhino translated into a physical world has more “value” in transforming state of affairs globally. Many rhinos have already done their jobs much to chagrin of these minds who had first row seat. Yet the response is still more powerful imaginations, in a childish diary of how so and so got so much money without inviting him in the cool club. I dont get it, is there some kind of machine in America connected to the internet that translates wishes into laws? If so, is it busy unpaving the “new roads to serfdom”? I wonder if these clusters use that machine for broken stuff around the house because either what they are imagining is true and requires urgent action or they are lying while profiting from the cult, maybe worse, deluded. This is the very definition of heartlessness, cowardice at which sheep and raccons combined will cover face with shame. Central Bank omnipotence is masquerading behind the weakness if not outright response to it. And if these clusters truly understand the poker game, as they so often claim to by boasting with the kind of horrifci mind reading they unleashed on players, as if it’s a badge of honro - I call your bluffS.

  8. Per Charity Navigator the entity is eligible to be rated; here’s a link to their most recent 990, if click thru doesn’t work, register and you can see all of them
    Sonnenfeld works 40 hours a week draws no salary. Gave cash grant of $500k to Yale school of management all from 2016 990.
    Biggest other expense that year were Conferences at $1M+. Joseph DeLillo paid $195k as EVP of CELI…

Continue the discussion at the Epsilon Theory Forum


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