At CEORater we evaluate CEOs on 42 attributes across four quadrants (Operations-related, Strategy & Tactics, Investor-related and Personality-related attributes). Great CEOs are time-tested, have a well-rounded skill set, are high character, are intellectually curious, the list goes on. Several founders and CEOs recently reminded us of their blind spots.
Tickers mentioned: GM, ORCL, TSLA
Mary Barra, CEO, General Motors (tkr: GM): Not sure what Mary Barra and GM were thinking as it relates to the Nikola deal (Nikola’s founder is being investigated by the SEC and DOJ. It also appears that Nikola has essentially zero IP of its own). It is clear GM did zero deal due diligence. Further, why would GM consider taking a stake in a company at an outrageously expensive valuation (NKLA had a 145 thousand Market Value to Revenue multiple at its peak and was valued at around half of that multiple at deal announcement time). GM’s Board ought to terminate Barra as CEO. The fraud allegations against Nikola make it that much more of an embarrassment for GM. Remedial-level due diligence could have avoided this headache.
Elon Musk, CEO, Tesla (tkr: TSLA): The SEC let Musk off easy two years ago when he Tweeted about having secured funding for taking Tesla private. The SEC has a history of letting bad actors with a brand name get off easy. Musk’s most recent offense was Tesla’s much-hyped Battery Day which did not deliver new battery technology but may do so by 2022. Musk has a penchant for promotion, stretching the truth (to be kind), over-promising and under-delivering much like fellow Board member Larry Ellison.
Larry Ellison, founder & CTO, Oracle (tkr: ORCL): Ellison has been a “promotional” founder and CEO since his days selling database software to the CIA. Ellison/Oracle’s TikTok deal, which is up in the air, provides Oracle with little in the way of strategic value or IP (no recommendation engine). This lack of deal substance hasn’t stopped the Ellison hype train. Ellison is spinning in overdrive, telling the world that TikTok chose Oracle because of the latter’s superior technology. If you believe that bit of spin, Ellison and Oracle have Quantum computing technology they can sell you.