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John Sculley tells Asians to break the rules

Chee-Sing Chan (Computerworld HK) | Sept. 17, 2013
At the recent ITMA CIO Executive Summit in Singapore, Sculley talks about Asian talent, innovation and the key elements of effective modern leadership

That would have been unheard of a decade ago. I really think that, maybe for the first time, it's going to be possible to replicate a significant part of Silicon Valley because of this virtualization.

But the one thing that you cannot easily replicate in Silicon Valley is that Silicon Valley has this amorphous thing that is kind of connected but has no particular structure to it. It has no head. There's no brain in Silicon Valley that oversees everything, but all these things are connected.

CWHK: You have some leading companies like Yahoo that have pulled back from this idea of working virtually or remotely. Is that a real trend reversal because they feel that they need to have more face-to-face interaction?
JS: I think when Marissa Mayer moved into Yahoo—and I'm not an insider—but my bet is after about a week she was there, she must have seen the organization was much worse than expected.

The Internet has gone through several different models, yet Yahoo is still trapped back in a model that may be obsolete. People are wondering what she is doing with this call for people to return to the office. But I think she's just trying to pull the thing together. She's got to give it focus and a rally point.

You either join us and be part of the company and come to work, or go work somewhere else—make that choice. She's got to change the culture and she's got a limited amount of time. Telling people that they can't work from home any more is just a piece to the puzzle. I wouldn't draw any wider conclusion from it than that.

CWHK: Another company trying to turn itself around is HP — what do you think will happen there?
JS: I've known Meg Whitman since she worked at Hasbro. A very talented lady who did a great job at eBay and HP is lucky to have her. You talk about a board that ought to be spanked. It's just incredible how many mistakes have been made there.

Everything is going in the wrong direction for them. It bought EDS at the height of its value and guess what—nobody buys IT services that way anymore. Then it bought Autonomy at the wrong time for the wrong price. Then it has the printer business—which was at one point the majority of their profit—but people don't print as much anymore. And you still have its PC business and its failed mobile platform.

The company was clearly without leadership over a number of years. And she's stepped in—it's amazing to me that she even accepted the job.


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