Monday, 18 May 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #287: A Rarity Indeed

According to the always indefatigable Nikki Finke, Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton offered to reduce his own pay to reflect a recent downturn in the company's fortunes.

This report stunned me so bad I really couldn't write about it for a few days. It's like seeing a Bigfoot but rarer, and more unbelievable.

I should probably should explain why I was so shocked by this event. Usually when a company hits a bad patch the CEO then goes to the board and demands raises and bonuses far beyond the performance of them or the company. These demands are usually made in the name of "retention," basically a polite form of blackmail where the CEO says: "Pay me more, or I'll walk".

Usually the CEOs who make these demands, are the very same people who put the company in the bad spot in the first place, but since the boards tend to be comprised of their friends and cronies, they usually get what they want. So we have a system where companies pay out tens of millions of dollars to keep people whose sole claim to fame was already costing the company tens of millions of dollars in losses.

Which is what makes Lynton's offer so incredible.

He actually wants his salary based upon his performance. When the company hits a bad patch, then he has to ride it like everyone else, and not resort to layoffs just to cover his own butt and income.

Now some have tried to say that Lynton's offer is no big thing since he comes from family money and can probably survive a pay cut. I disagree. Most CEOs are paid in the millions every year, and if they can't save some rainy-day money when times are good, they really shouldn't be running a major corporation.

Lynton's offer, which was ultimately refused by the Sony parent company, shows a certain amount of seriousness about his role as the Chief Executive Officer. He has offered to link his own success to the success of the company, in good times and bad, and it's an admirable stance.

I think Sony should have taken him up on his offer, if only to shame the other CEOs bleeding their company's dry into doing something to make them worthy of their salary.

Anyway, I wish them luck. Anyone who views the company as a serious business, than a means to fatten their egos and wallet is someone who deserves it.

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