I've written before about the US auto industry. In a previous post I spoke of Toyota being a company the US auto companies should emulate. Today, we see that even Toyota is not immune to the recession. I still think they're in a much better position to weather this storm than any US company but when a well run shop like Toyota loses $7.7 billion in a quarter, that can't be good.
The Obama administration asked Rick Wagoner, the chairman and CEO of General Motors, to step down and he agreed, a White House official said.
You never want to relish when someone gets fired. But don't cry for Rick Wagoner. He made over $63 million during his career at GM, most of which came during his years as CEO (a little under $39 million). When you realize that GM lost approximately $82 billion in the last four years of his tenure, it was obvious that new leadership was needed. Interim chairman, Kent Kresa, also stated that most of the GM board of directors would be changed at the annual meeting in August. Another good move seeing as how they kept on supporting Wagoner year after year while he presided over the meltdown of an American icon. I don't know if the US auto industry can be saved, but it couldn't hurt to have some new blood running things. I want to desparately support American made automobiles and if the stars are aligned, my next car will be American made.
Techcrunch has a guest post from Todd Dagres of Spark Capital. In it, he suggests that President Obama should get Steve Jobs to run a joint government bailed-out GM-Chrysler. Though I agree with the overall strategy of the article (firing the current auto execs and streamlining the product line), I don't think Steve Jobs is the best person to actually execute this. His other choices (should Steve not be available), John Chambers or Craig Barrett are somewhat more plausible, though not quite there.
It's a little simplistic to think that Steve can make everything he touches into gold. Though Steve has had great success at Apple and Pixar, the shear size of the auto companies dwarf even those two industry leaders. I think Steve could be a great product strategist for the auto industry, but I think it'll take someone with big industrial operational experience to execute on a new product vision. Maybe it's a tag team effort - Steve leading product development and someone like say, Jack Welch to run operations? I know Nardelli was a GE alum but I don't have much confidence in his ability to lead given his lackluster results at both Home Depot and Chrysler. Perhaps the master can do better than the student.