Tuesday, December 1, 2009

G.M. Board Tells Fritz Goodbye

The "Tell Fritz" webpage — an empty PR gesture that G.M. trotted out after bankruptcy to show that CEO Fritz Henderson was in touch with consumers — was good for something. Bill Vlasic of The New York Times used it in the lead of today's story on Henderson getting canned:
As part of his bid to make General Motors management appear more accessible and responsive coming out of bankruptcy, the chief executive, Fritz Henderson, set up a Web page called Tell Fritz.

One consumer sent in a question last month asking why G.M. had fared so poorly in a recent Consumer Reports survey.

“We were generally disappointed in our results,” Mr. Henderson responded. “We simply must produce better results.”

On Tuesday, the new G.M. board agreed emphatically with Mr. Henderson’s assessment, and asked him to resign immediately.

Is it just me, or does Fritz Henderson look a little like Charles Foster Kane?


  1. I hate to bring up money, but since American taxpayers pretty much own the company -- how much is Fritz going to be collecting now that he has left this flaming turd known as GM? I only ask this because it seems like the CEOs from all of these bailout companies profit handsomely from all of these failures and the people paying the bills (i.e., the American taxpayer) usually ends up getting screwed.

  2. It's hard to tell how much significance should be given to the "car guys vs. money managers" and "knows the culture and can get stuff done vs. can see the flaws in the culture and force changes" arguments. When the bankers took over from Billy Durant the second time, the money guy they put in charge turned out to be a quick study as a car guy, and became a visionary leader. GM's worst decades were helmed by internally developed money guys who were blind to their strategic death spiral. Ford's Alan Mullally, totally from the outside and knowing nothing about cars, has been brilliant at recognizing the fine distinctions between what works and what doesn't, and turning around their equally broken culture.

    On the other hand, it's pretty scary that Ed Whittaker seems to be proud of not knowing anything about cars, or why people buy them, and is backed by a Board that is equally know-nothing except about finance.

    From news reports, the specific fault leading to Fritz's firing was the failure to make lots of money selling Opel, Saturn and SAAB. There doesn't seem to be a second half to the story, in which it's explained why it's Fritz's fault that Renault came to its senses regarding Saturn's prospects, no one wants the SAAB carcass, and Opel obviously has been GM's engineering center for mid-sized sedans for the past decade.

    Whittaker seems to have been just waiting for an excuse to take over himself. He's a super-sized-ego kind of guy, with a track record heavily influenced by luck in my opinion. Well, now we get to roll the dice with our whole stake bet on him.

  3. We own around sixty percent of a sieve with a hole in it. Wonder who the next human patch will be....I echo, Rosebud! unclebuck


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