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November 17, 2008
I’ll Run Chrysler! At
Least I’d Be Funny
Mr. J. Danforth Quayle
Cerberus Capital Management
And Why Does Your Name Sound Otherwise Familiar?
Dear Mr. Quayle,
you’re the chairman of the bunch that owns Chrysler, eh? Fun times for
you. Not only is your company just this side of bankruptcy, but your two
bigger domestic competitors are in as bad a condition as you are. You
can’t even get any face time! It’s not like 30 years ago, when that
attention-mongering guy ran your company and Chrysler was all over the
news for needing a government bailout to survive.
These days? Get in line. GM and Ford want bailouts. The City of Detroit
has asked for a bailout. It’s the new heroin chic. My next door neighbor
Dave is thinking of asking for a bailout too, just to be a wise guy. So
you can’t even win for losing. You’re just one of the suckers these
you were, until it came out in the news that you’re paying 50 top
executives a total of $30 million in “retention bonuses,” just as you’re
getting ready to ask Uncle Sam to bail you out again.
This whole business about executive bonuses has gotten a little odd.
Aren’t bonuses supposed to be rewards for performance? These days, if
you simply don’t quit, you get a “retention bonus.” And even if
you do quit, you get a “golden parachute.”
Does anyone do any work around there?
At any rate, I understand you inherited these contracts from Daimler
when you bought Chrysler from them. (An aside, and I suppose we could
spend all day on this: Doesn’t your group invest in companies you can
sell for a profit? And you bought Chrysler thinking this would
happen? Chrysler? Really, you thought this was a good idea, did
you?) OK, so, you inherited the bonus obligations and thought you should
About that. It seems to me that if the executives’ continued presence
compelled you to pay the bonuses, you could have, oh, I don’t know,
maybe . . . fired them? See? Executives not retained. No need to pay
bonuses. I remember when the Minnesota Vikings got rid of Randall
Cunningham so they wouldn’t have to pay him a “roster bonus,” which is
basically a retention bonus for football players. He was not good enough
to be worth paying a bonus just for being on the roster. From what I’ve
seen of your company’s recent performance, neither is your executive
Now I’m sure you’re wondering, “But who would run our company if our
executives weren’t here?” That’s where I’m going to help you out.
Perhaps you’ve seen my column. I am a funny guy, if I do say so myself,
who owns a business. Many people think my management style is in fact
the joke, and it very well may be, but that would make me the perfect
CEO for Chrysler.
you hire me as CEO, you will only have to pay me for working. Not for
staying. Not for quitting. I realize Chrysler is privately held, so I
would have no hope of getting any stock options, but really, who would
want your stock? I bet you wish you didn’t own any.
Too late for that, though. But what you can still do is put the man in
charge who is the perfect fit for Chrysler. I am a joker, and Chrysler
is a joke. We are a match made in Heaven. I will make fun of everything
– your history, your prior CEOs (especially you-know-who, but also that
guy who you got from the Dodgers) and of course, your products. I will
cancel all union contracts, because I just prefer not to deal with
unions, and when they try to haul me before the National Labor Relations
Board, I’ll pretend to get lost on the way!
What I won’t do is turn your company’s performance around. Your cars
stink. I wouldn’t buy one to save my life. I’d show up for work in a
Nissan Altima. But I would be so hilarious, Congress just might give you
the bailout money so they could continue to be entertained by me.
It’s not much of a plan, I’ll grant you, but at least it’s a novel
approach, and I don’t see where you have much hope otherwise.
You know where to find me.
And if this Chrysler thing doesn’t work out, maybe you could try
politics. You may think it’s not as noble a profession as business, but
po-tay-toe/po-tah-toe, I say.
© 2008 North Star
Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.
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