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

Posted on December 17, 2009


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