Big Blues

Big Blues

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Carroll, Paul Crown Publishing, 1993
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IN THIS SUMMARY

The unmaking of IBM has probably hurt more people than the unmaking of any other company in history. The toll begins with 140,000 jobs lost over the past seven years (when spouses and children are included, the lost jobs disrupted the lives of approximately 400,000 people). Whole towns have lost their livelihoods, particularly in the Hudson Valley where IBM was the largest employer. Those who invested in IBM’s stock saw shares lose $75 billion of value-equivalent to the gross domestic product of Sweden. About half that money came from institutional investors who manage pension funds, so IBM’s decline lost money for employees at thousands of other companies worldwide. The other half of the money was lost by the 500,000 individual holders of IBM stock, most of whom were counting on that money for retirement. As of 1993, IBM also started paying out $1.5 billion less in dividends. Popular and professional media have chronicled IBM’s tragic unraveling but Paul Carroll pulls it all together into an edifying package that relates directly to current and future interests of the computer industry, and by extension, the whole of American business. Although there will probably never again be one company that so dominates an industry as IBM once did, there are still some powerhouse companies that can benefit from the lessons to be learned from IBM’s experience: There are more things in the stars (more technology, innovation, markets, strategies, corporate cultures, etc.) than can possibly be dreamt of in one company’s philosophy- if that company does not change and adapt and do so at a rapid pace. Carroll’s depiction of the rise and fall of IBM demonstrates that the computer industry is one in which creativity counts more than size or last quarter’s earnings. U.S. companies still dominate in the most rapidly advancing and most profitable segments of the industry. Carroll has provided a "handbook" for those who need to know what not to do in order to maintain their competitive advantage.