Engadget posts scathing open letter from former Motorola insider

Engadget has posted an open letter from former Motorala advisor Numair Faraz to CEO Greg Brown.

Regarding Ed Zander, former Motorola CEO, and Geoffrey Frost, Motorola Chief Marketing Officer, who was responsible for the original RAZR:

After the success of the RAZR, while Geoffrey was tied up every which way in ROKR development, meetings, criscrossing travel, and so on, through his associates I implored the company to beef up their software expertise, and focus on creating socially networked devices (this was in the years before MySpace and Facebook became the juggernauts they are today). Your predecessor, Ed Zander, had little interest in this, and instead insisted on parlaying his relationship with Steve Jobs into the ill-fated ROKR effort in order to prop up Motorola’s stock price.

MacDailyNews Take: Boy, Jobs sure played that moron Zander by having Motorola screw around with that piece of crap while Apple was concurrently developing a secret little project called “iPhone.”

Zander, who seemed to care more about his golf score than running one of America’s greatest technology companies, left all of the hard work to Geoffrey; I’ve always considered it Motorola’s dirty little secret that the strategy for their entire profit machine was run by the company’s CMO — not the rest of the company’s executives, who are as inept now as they have ever been.

Many close to Geoffrey believed Ed Zander worked him to death, putting the pressure of the fate of the company in his hands. I took his untimely death in 2005 very hard, and knew that the company would head downhill in the aftermath. On a personal note, Lynne, his wife blamed the company for his passing. She committed suicide soon after.

Full article — very highly recommended — here.

May 10, 2007: Motorola Chairman (until May) and then-CEO Ed Zander said his company was ready for competition from Apple’s iPhone, due out the following month. “How do you deal with that?” Zander was asked at the Software 2007 conference Wednesday in Santa Clara, Calif. Zander quickly retorted, “How do they deal with us?”IDG News Service

22 Comments

  1. I wouldn’t exactly call the RAZR and the iPhone “similar products”. They aren’t even targeting the same market really, unless you mean they just both look cool. I have a RAZR and an iPod touch, and I don’t really have any interest in getting an iPhone if/when it’s finally available in Canada. The RAZR is fine as a phone and my iPod touch can do everything else (I wouldn’t use it to connect to edge or 3G networks anyways since data plan rates in Canada are atrocious).

  2. Having worked for Zander at another company (Sun) let me just say that Motorola’s current circumstances rest entirely on his shoulders. Rarely has someone gotten so rich through complete failure as he has. . .

  3. I’ve thought for some time that Motorola’s story was tragic, just as the destruction of Palm is tragic for American technology. I had no idea Motorola’s failure was based on human tragedy at the root level. I’m sorry for Mr. Frost and his wife, and their family.

  4. That’s what happens when you have a weak Board of Directors under the spell of a CEO. Every Board needs a spanker… maybe it should’ve been Icahn. Tragic indeed, but I wonder how many companies are in this situation. And how many executives really prop up and drive a corporation forward only to end up marginalized and unrecognized.

    Bad things happen when you’re led bythe clueless. Now let’s see what happens in this election year. One weakness of democracy is that when the press fail to do their job, clueless voters get to choose their leader. Good luck!

  5. It’s the same story with Palm. The incompetent are kept in power while the truly talented leave (where possible).

    It’s not so much that the bosses are stupid and the engineers are smart (although all the geeks would like you to think that). It’s that there are talented middle management who are never promoted to the top ranks, or only the loudest and most arrogant ones are.

  6. Just looked at Zander’s page on Wikipedia and discovered he’s ex-Data General: a company that designed and made great products – many thanks to Tom West and the people he inspired – undone by sales and marketing management that would have difficulty walking and chewing gum simultaneously.

    Once you know that fact, nearly everything else barely comes as a surprise.

  7. More evidence of fish rotting from the head down in corrupt corporate America. Motorola deserves what it’s getting. It’s sad that the non-management employees have to suffer because of the arrogance and incompetence of the executives.

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