Information Tech Corporations and the Left: A Dangerous Liaison

To the titans of Silicon Valley, November 8, 2016 was a date that forever shall live in infamy.  The election of Donald Trump as president posed an unprecedented threat to their campaign to transform America into a permanent global sanctuary.  Information technology leaders have been on the warpath since President Trump’s January 27 90-day ban on immigration and refugee entry from seven terrorist-sponsoring (or terrorist-controlled) Muslim-majority nations, an executive order nixed a week later by a Seattle federal judge.  That ruling triggered a quick appeal by the administration, and just as quickly, an amicus brief submitted to the appeals court by around 100 tech executives in support of the lower court ruling.  Significant as the immigration angle is, another and perhaps less recognized issue looms:  the willful transformation of corporations into a de facto branch of the federal government.

With increasing commitment, U.S. corporations over the last few decades have …

I’ve Had My Last Cup of Starbucks Coffee

Starbucks coffee cupAt the Starbucks annual meeting on March 20, CEO Howard Schultz told a shareholder named Tom Strobhar to sell his stock if he disagreed with the company’s embrace of gay marriage.

Shareholders do have this prerogative. That is the beauty of securities markets. But the issue is not so simple. Institutional investors now own the majority of shares of publicly-held companies traded on U.S. exchanges. Many people own stock through mutual and pension funds, overseen by professional managers. As a practical matter, lots of Starbucks shareholders do not have the opportunity to easily sell their stock.

But there is a larger issue. Why is one of the world’s biggest and most widely admired companies taking sides on such a controversial issue? If Schultz can tell shareholders who disagree with him to take a hike, doesn’t this necessarily extend to customers, partners and employees? After all, these relationships are voluntary, too.…

Memo to Starbucks: Dig In, Smell the Coffee, Fight Back

starbucks-coffee-cup-227x300Starbucks, that epitome of a socially-conscious corporation, is now the target of an escalating campaign among self-styled socially-conscious activists to blacken its name. One can understand why these radical activists would go after discount retailing behemoth Wal-Mart. But who would have thought they’d also have classy Starbucks in their sights?

Last month, Brave New Films, an independent documentary production company based in Culver City, California, launched its “Stop Starbucks” campaign. The website features a four-minute video posting on YouTube alleging mistreatment by the company toward employees, plus a petition demanding Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz “quit following Wal-Mart’s anti-union example.” Within a week, nearly 12,000 viewers had signed it. The campaign also featured a Twitter sabotage of a Starbucks photo promotion, replete with clever messages like “I want my union with my latte” and “Schultz makes millions, workers make beans.”

On closer inspection, this makes sense. The head of Brave …