Intel and the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree: Why Management Should Be Held Accountable!

I find it interesting that like the proverbial “bad penny” the unethical actions of Intel relative to waging “a systematic campaign to shut out rivals’ competing microchips,” continues to turn up.

The latest example of poor corporate citizenry from the monolithic chip maker was revealed yesterday through an announcement that the FTC is suing Intel as it relates to the future of the graphics processor market.

Specifically, and as reported yesterday by ZDNet  Editor in Chief Larry Dignan, the FTC complaint includes allegations that Intel:

  • Cut off rivals’ access to the marketplace;
  • Deprived consumers of choice and innovation;
  • Was anti-competitive for a decade as it moved to shore up its monopoly;
  • And now is working to choke off rivals in graphics chips.

I will leave it to you to access and review at your leisure the FTC complaint against Intel in its entirety through the following link.

The real question I have is simply this, if Intel is a corporation in which its conduct is determined by its executive leadership, then why for the most part have these executives remained nameless?

Perhaps I am missing something, but isn’t their exclusion from the proceedings tantamount to blaming a car for an accident instead of the driver?  After all who made the decisions to implement and aggressively pursue what the FTC refers to as “anti-competitive tactics,” that “were designed to put the brakes on superior competitive products that threatened its monopoly in the CPU microchip market?”

As long as those who “drive” an enterprise which violates fair business practices, and in the process breaks either existing laws (or warrant the creation of “new rules for regulating business conduct”) are not called to task, I doubt that things will change.

Perhaps John Berling Hardy, author the book “Have We Been Played?” is on to something when he suggests that by holding a corporate brand accountable for the actions of its leadership, the belief is that this will somehow assuage perhaps even deflect public anger away from those who are truly responsible.

In the emerging world of social media where personal branding and citizen journalism are the epitome of personal accountability, who are these faceless “Eyes Wide Shut” executives?

The best place to start is right at the top, with the individuals who have been at the helm during the past ten years when, as the FTC alleges, the infractions occurred.

While I do not have either Mr. Otellini’s or Mr. Barrett’s personal e-mail addresses, perhaps flooding Intel with e-mails directed at these executives would be a good first step?

The Son of Man by René Magritte

At worst, a Don Quixote-type  gesture such as sending an e-mail en masse will at least enable you to transition your displeasure from the realms of the “faceless businessman” to one of a tangible persona.

Paul S. Otellini, Intel CEO since May 18th, 2005

Craig R. Barrett, Intel CEO 1998 to 2005


One Response to “Intel and the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree: Why Management Should Be Held Accountable!”
  1. The allegations against Intel 1,2,3 are based on the actions
    of the past which are simple corporate competition in an
    open market. I believe that now Jobs has adopted Intel a
    lot of the competition disappeared – you know that natural
    Mac PC division that was so convenient to the anti monopoly
    ferrets – always sniffing for something to do.

    So now without the competition there they are faced with a
    whole lot of recalculation – tough. Intel does the job or Jobs
    wouldn’t go there.

    The only concern I have is the CURRENT number 4.
    In what way are they choking whom? Exactly. This implies
    that bad behaviour is taking place. What bad choking behaviour
    is this and who are the rivals? Do they do a better chip than the
    one the world now trusts?

    Intel may be too fierce and sly with their marketing – they are
    already under necessity to advertise continuously and heavily
    – well it would only go in taxes.

    So let the men playing monopoly to invest, to investigate what do
    the public want for a change. ? Why harry the companies doing
    well for misdemeanor? unless a real transgression, against what
    is decent, can be properly appraised and established.

    Somehow I smell work for lawyers, Commission versus Corporate
    body. I smell massive fines and retribution – even seizures at the
    end of the road for the trial of Intel. There’s money in them hills.

    There’s always a revenue stream or so running to the pockets of
    others where an enquiry – an accusation has taken place.

    It costs an organisation dear to get too big – mustn’t get cocky with
    the banks the monty python foot stomps down. It cost IBM a small
    fortune for getting too powerful and they were vilified unjustly in
    many subtle ways.

    A corporation structure was originally set down on paper for the
    convenience of people maintaining the business. Now a corporate has
    pretty much the same rights as a person. They can be sued and taxed.

    Branding is the process of making them more real with a mission
    and a purpose a character – a colour.

    Executives have face and plenty of it – they just have no responsibility
    except for the sacrificial lamb as far down the scale as they can get
    away with. You are right go to the top. A journalist can propose an
    interesting interview and get to know the man.

    It’s a fact I always remember, lower down the hierarchy are many
    men and women who do buy the mission and are totally proud to
    be part of the household name. In this category run the executive PR.

    As a preference to the publicity crowd or the branding buddies Exec
    PR look after what the stockholders are going to hear. They should be
    asked a rapid succession of questions to establish who might they be
    choking. Personally I doubt Intel would and if there is a bit of that
    going on – they will stop.

    I just don’t think we got all that much of a problem. This big ole
    commission was set up for a good reason last century and now it
    s redundant – a few ombudsmen would do to keep an eye on things.

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