Palm Struggles to Retain Crew to Manage Sinking Ship

by Matt Klassen on April 20, 2010

Like rats abandoning a sinking ship, many of Palm’s execs are looking to bolt the company before its inevitable end. This past week the first of the high level execs jumped ship when it was announced that Michael Abbott, senior vice president of software and one of the driving forces behind Palm’s innovative webOS, is leaving the company.

This announcement sparked a swift and decisive move on Palm’s part, one of its only decisive moves in recent memory, aimed at retaining its executives and maintaining a modicum of corporate stability amidst what can only be called a difficult transition period for the once great mobile company.

But with the company clearly on its last legs, the question remains, how much money would Palm need to pay you to go down with the ship?

In a story almost as crazy as American banks paying their executives huge bonuses with taxpayer’s money, Palm revealed that in order to prevent the mass exodus of high level staff they are offering their executives generous $250,000 dollar incentives to stay with the company as they try to regain the former glory of the Palm brand.

But with the company’s financial woes being the primary catalyst for Palm’s downfall, it’s certainly surprising to hear that they are throwing their money around so freely. While it’s no surprise that corporate loyalty is dead and that most people will remain dedicated to cause so long as it pays them well, I do wonder if throwing this amount of cash at executives is a wise business move.

Clearly it wouldn’t be good for Palm’s failing stock prices or the solvency of the company if all the executives left, but drastic times like these may call for some drastic measures, and that, in my mind, means cutting some of the dead weight at the management level.

It makes little sense to pay exorbitant incentive packages to the precise group of individuals that got Palm into this mess in the first place. Quite frankly, had those very executives been doing their jobs properly, perhaps Palm wouldn’t find itself in its current predicament. Further, like any good sports franchise (save the Yankees, of course), a key to renewed success is often admitting that you’re going through a rebuilding phase; a move often coupled with the removal of over-paid veterans to be replaced by energetic and fresh thinking up-and-comers.

If Palm is going to weather this storm, it seems prudent to recognize the key players of the executive team, retain them, and cut the rest. It’s harsh, I know, but in the dog-eat-dog mobile world sometimes it’s necessary to trim the fat off a struggling company. But is firing some top executives really the answer for Palm? Who knows, but with the current team running the ship aground, plotting a new course certainly couldn’t hurt.

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