Jeez, the Sony corporate flacks are working overtime. But don’t bother reading The New Yorker‘s just published profile of Sir Howard Stringer in the June 5th issue. Or The New York Times’ profile of Sir Howard in Sunday’s edition. Egads, haven’t there already been enough puff jobs penned about this guy that we don’t need two more? (If I have to read one more description of how diplomatic he is, I’ll puke.)
At least the NYT doesn’t contain the usual pages of pablum about Stringer’s background at Oxford or at CBS. New Yorker writer Mark Singer seems so in love with the fact that he’s birddogging Stringer that he fails to ask the hard questions. (Why does access always equal acceptance?) Sheesh, Stringer isn’t even pushed to name names about who helped destroy Sony’s once-upon-a-time technological lead in the marketplace: no talk, for instance, about longtime Sony Music honcho Tommy Mottola reputedly helping sabotage Sony’s Ipod-like device that preceded Apple’s gazillion-dollar goodie by two years. Neither is that in the NYT piece.
Interesting that the NYT didn’t challenge Sir Howard’s claim that “he recommended that Sony acquire rights to the book two years ago — well before it sold nearly 60 million copies globally.” If that’s the case, why didn’t Sony buy the book earlier? Instead, John Calley (too sick to travel to Cannes for the premiere) personally went after it for Sony Pictures and clinched the deal in June 2003 — well after the book had became a publishing phenomenon. Neither piece really pressures Stringer on what the world already knows is Sony’s next tech debacle: the Blu-Ray digital-video disc player, aka Betamax Deux.
Instead, we get the relentlessly self-deprecating Stringer, who says stuff to The New Yorker like, “The last time I truly knew what I was doing was when I was producing the CBS Evening News because I felt in command of all aspects of the process.” Or who is reluctant to talk to MBA candidates because “somebody might ask me a business question.” I, for one, am sick of Stringer’s self-effacement. So I’ll take him at face value and tell him to get off the media blitz he’s been on since Day One and let someone with real business knowledge and management skill take over Sony.