Big Payday for Intel’s CEO

You might recall a little incident with Intel, Meltdown and Spectre. Almost all Intel processors since 1995 were impacted.

On the cover of Intel’s Code of Conduct, we find this note from Intel’s CEO, Brian Krzanich:

Intel has consistently been recognized as one of the world’s leading corporate citizens and most ethical companies. I would like to thank you for your contribution in role modeling Intel values and maintaining our reputation as a company that is well respected, trusted, and admired.

As we embrace new challenges and increase our presence in rapidly changing markets, one thing that must never change is our unflagging commitment to our values and the highest ethical standards. These core values and standards are the foundation of the unique Intel culture that differentiates us, builds our brand, and inspires our customers and suppliers.

Our Code of Conduct is and will always be our steady compass. The Code sets the expectations for integrity and ethics that I expect all employees to follow. Read it, discuss it, and commit to upholding it. If you have any questions or concerns please contact your manager, your Business Group lawyer, your Ethics and Compliance Business Champion, any member of Intel Ethics & Legal Compliance, or the Intel Ethics & Compliance Reporting Portal (intel.ethicspoint.com).

I look forward to your continued commitment to live our values in the workplace each and every day.

Brian Krzanich
Chief Executive Officer

Now the code of conduct did not stop Brian from selling all of the Intel stock he could after Intel learned of this security issue. Part of his unflagging commitment to Intel’s values and their highest ethical standards allowed him to profit before public disclosure.

Brian was also carrying on a “consensual” relationship with an Intel employee, against Intel company policy.

I guess someone decided to hold him to account.

He resigned today.

But don’t feel sad for him.

Looking at Intel’s latest 14a filing, which you can download here, Brian has a big payday coming.

His walk away compensation is estimated at $38 million dollars.

Not bad for a former CEO with a demonstrable track record of modeling Intel values and profiting in a timely fashion on the sale of Intel stock.

I Get Mail

I will miss email encounters like this one after I retire.

You would be surprised at how difficult it is to answer questions honestly, simply and with absolute clarity but somehow, with decades of experience answering hundreds of thousands of emails just like this one, I think I finally found a way.

Gmail has a new AI auto responder.

The AI wanted me to answer this way:

Yes, I am. I would love to chat. You’re looking at him!

I think Google has some work to do with their AI auto responder.

I Get Mail

On a quiet day, I receive 30 to 40 unsolicited vendor emails in my corporate inbox. Google conveniently puts many of them into my spam folder. I check the spam folder every so often, just in case, and often find interesting chains of emails.

This one I call the Ode to Dilip.

From: Dilip
Sent: Thursday, April 12, 2018
Subject: Meeting request

Dear Richard,

Hope you’re having a great day!

My name is Dilip and I am with one of the leading providers of analytics services.

Our customer-centric approach, deep domain expertise, and a strong focus on operational excellence, combined with innovative analytics solutions, enable us to help our clients differentiate in the market.

We offer data analytics services which empower companies to monetize data from across the organization, eliminating data and application boundaries and silos, to make the right information available to the right users at the right time. This helps fully leverage the power of analytics to drive competitive advantage and business benefits.Please let me know your convenient time to schedule a meeting to discuss further.

Look forward to your reply. Have a great day!

Regards,>Dilip

Almost all unsolicited vendor emails follow this same pitch. Generic corporate bingo phrases like “empower companies to monetize data from across the organization” and “make the right information available to the right users at the right time” generally reduce a vendor’s credibility almost immediately.

Five days pass. Dilip tries again.

From: Dilip
Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Subject: RE: Follow upDear Richard,

I am writing this to follow up on my earlier email. I’d like to set up a call to discuss any quires you might have, Please let me know if you are still interested, and if so, which day works for you.

I look forward to hearing back from you. Have a great day!

Regards,
Dilip

“If I am still interested”? Dilip does not give up however.

Three days pass. Dilip strikes again.

From: Dilip
Sent: Friday, April 20, 2018
Subject: Can I block 15 minutes on your calendar.

Dear Richard,Hope you’re having a great day!

The reason for my persistence is that I’m confident in our ability and strongly believe our analytics services could really help you to drive competitive advantage and business benefits.

I would like to arrange a quick call with you to discuss possible collaboration. How about next Wednesday 3:00 pm for you? If this Date/time doesn’t suites you let me your convenient time to schedule a call.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Regards,
Dilip

I see this tactic used frequently as well. A specific date and time is requested. I wonder how many people respond positively to this tactic? Given that all of his emails are going to spam, he may not be aware that I am reading his entire email chain in one sitting.

Nonetheless, he tries again. Before the Wednesday. Four days later.

From: Dilip
Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Subject: Awaiting for your reply.

Dear Richard,

I am writing to follow up on my earlier email. I haven’t heard from you for a while. If you are still interested, Please let me know your convenient time to schedule a call. I’ve been keeping space open in my schedule, but if you’ve decided to go in another direction that’s no problem. Just let me know.

Thank you,

Regards,
Dilip

“I haven’t heard from you for a while.” Actually, you have never heard from me.

“If you are still interested…” Actually, I was never interested.

Dilip soldiers on.

From: Dilip
Sent: Friday, May 4, 2018
Subject: Trying to connect

Dear Richard,

Since I have not heard back from you, I have to assume you are not interested in our product at the moment. If you are still interested, Please let me know your convenient time to schedule a call.

I’m looking forward to your reply. Have a great day!

Regards,
Dilip

Yes Dilip, you had to assume that I was not interested although you were unaware that Google had placed all of your emails into Spam.

When I retire in a few weeks, all of those unsolicited vendor emails will bounce back undelivered.

I might miss a few of them. Like the ones from Dilip.

Sometimes I Just Hate Retailers

I suspect retailers might have a pessimistic sense about their future in the digital age. And, every so often, I understand why.

Many retailers are just awful.

A recent experience at the local Jump Plus store here in Kingston reminded me why I am increasingly going online to shop.

Two weeks ago I went to the Jump Plus shop to order a replacement for my aging iMac. As I live downtown, I wanted to support the local retailer.

The customer service was neutral. I knew the exact specification I wanted for the new machine and the transaction was pretty basic: please order this machine.

I was told that it would take them 5 to 7 business days for a custom order iMac to be delivered to their store. And that was fine with me.

They had my name, address, email address and telephone number on file as I have purchased from them many times before.

I asked them specifically if they required a deposit for the order. I was told no.

All fine.

I decided to call them to check on the status of the order as we were now 10 business days since the order was placed. The person who answered the call asked me who placed the order for me. Odd. You couldn’t find the order?

After trying to describe the salesperson who helped me, another person came on the line, the salesperson who had allegedly placed the order.

I quickly recounted the order that I had placed with her and the machine configuration.

“Did you get my email?” she asked.

This gets old pretty quickly.

“No.” I replied.

I receive several hundred emails a day. I archive them. I might have missed this one, although I doubt it. So I searched for any email from Jump Plus over the past two weeks.

Nothing.

“Well,” she continued, “we can’t order the unit because it is a custom build and we require a deposit. That is store policy.”

I pointed out the obvious to her. I had asked if a deposit was required when I placed the order two weeks ago and she told me no. The order specifically highlighted that it was a custom build when it was placed. If it was store policy, why wasn’t a deposit requested when it was placed? Why didn’t you follow up immediately with the request for a deposit if it was required for the order? You had both my email address and my phone number on file.

“Well, you will have to come in and place the deposit and then we can process the order.”

I really do not like people who are deceptive.

She could have responded with: “Oh I am so sorry. I was not able to get your order into our system without a deposit. And, with everything going on, I neglected to contact you to come into the shop to make the deposit. To make up for this, we’ll give you [whatever, a slight discount, a gift card to a coffee shop] for your trouble. You’ve been a long-time customer and we really appreciate your business.”

Instead she made up stories about “emails” and “store policies” when she either forgot to place the order as requested or her manager told her that she should have requested the deposit at the time the order was placed and she just never followed up.

I ordered the unit from Apple direct and it will be to my door in 3 business days.

So much easier.

Thank You For Your Business

From a recent Ontario Securities Commission settlement with 1832 Asset Management L.P. (Scotiabank, Dynamic Funds):

2. Investment fund managers (“IFMs”) are prohibited from making a payment of money or providing a non-monetary benefit to a participating dealer or dealing representatives (“DRs”) of a participating dealer in connection with the distribution of securities, except in certain permitted circumstances under Parts 3 and 5 of National Instrument 81-105 Mutual Fund Sales Practices (“NI 81-105”).

3. The Companion Policy to NI 81-105 provides that NI 81-105 was adopted in order to discourage sales practices and compensation arrangements that could be perceived as inducing 2 participating dealers and their representatives to sell mutual fund securities on the basis of incentives they were receiving rather than on the basis of what was suitable for and in the best interests of their clients. The purpose of NI 81-105 is to provide a minimum standard of conduct to ensure that investor interests remain uppermost in the actions of mutual fund industry participants when they are distributing mutual fund securities and that conflicts of interest arising from sales practices and compensation arrangements are minimized.

This was how Scotiabank’s asset management division thanked some of their financial advisors — Dealing Representatives (DRs) — for their business:

6. In particular, 1832 engaged in excessive spending on promotional activities on DRs including in relation to:

(a) one-time events such as concerts and sports events, including play-off events. In many instances, the cost of these events to 1832 exceeded $700 per DR per event and, in more limited instances, the cost exceeded $1,000 per DR per event;

(b) multiple promotional activities within the same quarter in breach of 1832’s guidelines, including taking a DR to back-to-back Blue Jays baseball (“Jays”) play-off games at a cost to 1832 of $1,340 for the DR and, in a one month period, taking a DR to two Toronto Maple Leafs hockey (“Leafs”) games and a Rihanna concert at a cost to 1832 of $1,111 for the DR; and

(c) on occasion, annual promotional activities, including spending more than $3,500 on one DR in 2015.

7. 1832 also provided promotional items and gifts (collectively “Items”) to DRs that were not of minimal value (and were therefore excessive) and/or were not promotional in nature including by:

(a) approving Items included in 1832’s warehouse store (the “Warehouse”) that were distributed to DRs, including a Bose wireless music system ($200), an executive briefcase ($190) and a golf GPS ($150);

(b) providing, with the approval of management, gifts of tickets to major events to DRs without requiring that an 1832 employee attend the event, including tickets to Jays games ($245) and to concerts such as Justin Bieber ($253);

(c) providing more than 2,000 gift cards to DRs, including approximately 150 gift cards costing more than $50 each to DRs, all of which gift cards constituted monetary benefits that were not permitted under NI 81-105; and

(d) providing Apple iPad minis and keyboards with a combined cost of approximately $325 each to 215 DRs who attended a mutual fund conference sponsored by 1832 in 2015 (the “2015 Conference”) and with a combined cost of approximately $375 each, to 210 DRs who attended a mutual fund conference sponsored by 1832 in 2016 (the “2016 Conference”) as well as Maui Jim sunglasses ($111) to those 210 DRs and, where applicable, the DR’s guest.

8. In addition, 1832 provided excessive non-monetary benefits to DRs on food, drinks and entertainment at the 2015 and 2016 Conferences including:

(a) spending over $1,000 per DR on the final day of the 2015 Conference on food, drinks and a celebrity speaker; and

(b) spending over $850 per DR on the final day of the 2016 Conference on food, drinks and a celebrity speaker.

From today’s Globe and Mail:

The Bank of Nova Scotia’s asset management division, 1832 Asset Management L.P., is the second investment fund manager to be fined this month for excessive spending in its mutual fund sales practices.

The fund manager has agreed to pay an $800,000 administrative penalty and $150,000 in investigation costs as regulators voice concerns surrounding their mutual fund sales practices.

Good to see the OSC at work in this area.

Selling Stuff On Reverb

Retirement.

Coming up soon now. Just a tad over three months.

Lorraine and I did a lot of downsizing when we sold our house. And part of the downsizing required me to thin the herd. The herd of guitar and recording gear.

I have sold a lot of equipment since we downsized. And I have more to sell.

The process has been interesting to say the least. Being a bit of an avid photographer, I took the time and effort to create some wonderful shots of the instruments I was selling, like the red Strat pictured above.

Here is what one of the shots looked like from my listing on Reverb:

Too good a shot it seems. I had potential buyers ask me if this was a stock photo. No. It is a photo of the actual guitar. Using some white paper and a few well placed studio lights can create a very cool product photo.

Reverb has been wonderful for the most part. With an increase in selling activity comes a slew of issues though. I’ve had at least a dozen or so “interesting” encounters. I’ll share a few of them over the next several days.

Let’s start with the disappearing studio monitors shall we?

The initial offer came in with a request to pick up the monitors. My preference is to use Reverb end-to-end including shipping. That way both the buyer and the seller are protected. I’m also a little wary of strangers coming from several hours away to pick up a product. Are they really serious or just kicking the tires? Would they do something a bit odd or try to renegotiate the deal?

Not worth the hassle. So I offered to waive the shipping charges as part of the deal.

Offer accepted.

Above a certain price point I ship gear with a signature required to ensure proof of delivery.

You just never know when that might come in handy.

Here were the messages from that particular transaction:

You bet I contacted Reverb support at this point in the exchange.

Perhaps it was possible that a courier, taking two very large boxes containing a set of expensive studio monitors, went to the address in question and left it with someone that did not live there. Maybe someone was just walking near the address and was being kind. “I’ll take those two large packages that weigh about 100 pounds. No, I don’t live at that address but I know the guy really, really well. Honest. And, sure thing, I’ll sign for them. No problem.”

What likely happened? The courier went to the door, rang the bell, the door opened, and someone signed for the speakers. They were delivered to the address.

I passed the entire exchange over to the Reverb team. I never heard back from the buyer so I don’t know whether he ever got the speakers that someone at his address signed for that day.

What I do know is that Reverb affords a lot of protection when selling something online. And, if it is expensive enough, I spend the extra money to get proof of delivery.

You never know when someone might try to take advantage.

Of course, it could all have been just a case of mistaken delivery.

The Secret to Career Success

A bit of an unlikely source for career advice although no question that John Berardi, co-founder of Precision Nutrition, has been exceptionally successful with his chosen path.

If there is a formula for the kind of success most people want, even if they don’t know what that looks like yet, it might be something like this:

Strong personal mission
+
High competency
+
System for execution
=
Personal and career satisfaction

Have a look around.

You’ll find there’s almost nothing more powerful than someone with a deeply held motivation to do their work plus high level of skill plus a blueprint or system for executing every day.

Dirty Money

A friend of mine suggested watching a Netflix series called Dirty Money.

The Atlantic describes the series this way:

Dirty Money, a fascinating and frequently enraging new documentary series on Netflix that tackles capitalism run amok—portraits of people and companies whose greed was so extreme and so untroubled by ethical boundaries that they engaged in truly historic acts of grift. The series explores how HSBC laundered money for drug cartels, how a race car driver was engaged in an illegal payday loan business that involved millions of Americans, and how Volkswagen cheated and lied to consumers globally about how dirty its diesel engines were.

Corporate conduct can be shocking.

And sometimes poor corporate conduct can be held in high esteem.

Consider the World’s Most Admired Companies, a list compiled by Fortune with research from Korn Ferry.

This year, several key traits were cited in the survey. To thrive in this most disruptive of times, surveyed executives said, organizations need to have its people incentivized properly, and a sense of purpose that everyone agrees with. And then there is ability to adapt. What executives at the world’s most admired companies say is most important is the agility to transform itself on an ongoing basis.

Let’s take a look at a few of those most admired companies.

Amazon.

On Monday mornings, fresh recruits line up for an orientation intended to catapult them into Amazon’s singular way of working.

They are told to forget the “poor habits” they learned at previous jobs, one employee recalled. When they “hit the wall” from the unrelenting pace, there is only one solution: “Climb the wall,” others reported. To be the best Amazonians they can be, they should be guided by the leadership principles, 14 rules inscribed on handy laminated cards. When quizzed days later, those with perfect scores earn a virtual award proclaiming, “I’m Peculiar” — the company’s proud phrase for overturning workplace conventions.

At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are “unreasonably high.” The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses. Employees say it is frequently used to sabotage others. (The tool offers sample texts, including this: “I felt concerned about his inflexibility and openly complaining about minor tasks.”)

JP Morgan Chase.

Between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, we’ve heard a lot about the corruption on Wall Street. But if you want to understand exactly what happened and why, read JPMadoff: The Unholy Alliance Between America’s Biggest Bank and America’s Biggest Crook.

Written by trial lawyers Helen Davis Chaitman and Lance Gotthoffer this heavily-researched, meticulously documented book lays out for the world to see the absolute corruption of JPMorgan Chase – America’s biggest bank. And the authors explain how Obama has furthered Wall Street crime by refusing to enforce America’s criminal laws against America’s biggest criminals – not Madoff, but JPMorgan Chase.

Facebook.

Another former Facebook executive has spoken out against the company’s current business practices, arguing that they directly enable electoral interference.

Dipayan Ghosh, once a privacy and public policy advisor for the social network, argues now that disinformation of the sort used to interfere in the US election and the EU referendum is strongly linked to the nature of Facebook as an advertising platform.

“Political disinformation succeeds because it follows the structural logic, benefits from the products and perfects the strategies of the broader digital advertising market,” Ghosh and his co-author Ben Scott wrote in a report, Digital Deceit, published by the New America foundation.

Ghosh left Facebook in 2017, shortly after the US general election raised troubling questions for him about the relationship between the company and disinformation. In the new report, he and Scott argue that attempts to put a lid on the practice with tweaks to the platform are doomed to failure while the basic business model of a social network is advertising-driven, algorithmically-run and attention-focused.

Intel.

Two U.S. lawmakers are calling for an investigation into whether Intel’s chief executive, Brian Krzanich, improperly sold company stock after learning of a serious security flaw in the tech giants’ microchips before it was publicly disclosed.

Intel sent the technology industry scrambling earlier this month when it announced that the microchips powering nearly every computer and smartphone have for years carried fundamental flaws that can be exploited by hackers. The flaws, dubbed Meltdown and Spectre, flow from designs that allowed computers to operate more quickly and efficiently.

“Security is job number one for Intel and our industry,” Krzanich said during the CES tech industry trade show earlier this week.

Now some lawmakers are questioning a large stock sale by the company’s chief executive late last year that was made before the news was made public, sending the company’s stock price down.

“This is exactly the type of report of suspicious trading that the SEC routinely investigates as well as the DOJ,” said Brandon L. Garrett, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law.