There was a rare and refreshing piece of openness from a CEO a few weeks ago that we just had to mention.
According to the Wall St Journal, Jon Rubinstein, CEO of Palm – the firm that makes personal digital assistants, recently addressed his staff with the following letter (in full, below) to address the issue of the firm’s flagging sales.
In what appears to be a gesture of openness and honesty with staff, he sent out the following in a company-wide email:
This morning we announced preliminary results for our 2010 third quarter. Since the quarter has not yet closed, it is too soon to offer exact numbers, but we stated that we expect to report revenues for Q3 between $300 and $320 million. We also announced that we expect our revenue for this fiscal year to fall below the guidance we gave to Wall Street, which ranged from $1.6 to $1.8 billion. As we mentioned in our press release, our softer than expected performance is due to slower than expected customer adoption of our products, which in turn has prompted our U.S. carrier partners to put additional orders on hold for the time being. On a positive note, we expect to exit the quarter with over $500 million in cash on our balance sheet. We’re scheduled to announce our full financial results in March.
I realize this news is difficult to swallow. We made this announcement today to prevent a surprise for Wall Street when we announce quarterly earnings in March. In the meantime, the entire executive team has been working extremely hard to improve product performance, and have implemented a number of initiatives to increase awareness and drive sales.
Dave Whalen and I just returned from a very successful meeting with Verizon Wireless, where they acknowledged that their execution of our launch was below expectations and recommitted to working with us to improve sales. To accelerate sales, we initiated Project JumpStart nearly three weeks ago. Since then, nearly two hundred Palm Brand Ambassadors, supplemented by Palm employees from Sunnyvale, have been training Verizon sales reps across the U.S. on our products. Early results from the stores have already shown improvement on product knowledge and sales week over week. You may have also seen a growing number of Palm ads on billboards, bus shelters, buses, and subway stations—all getting the word out about Palm.
All of these efforts are examples of how we are working to accelerate adoption and grow distribution of webOS. In the next few weeks, your management will work with you to make sure your priorities are laser-focused, primarily on helping to increase sales, improve product quality and differentiate the Palm product experience.
Our goals are taking longer than expected to achieve, but I am still confident that our talented team has what it takes to get the job done.
We’ll schedule an all-hands meeting after our earnings announcement in March, and I’ll be happy to answer your questions.
In addressing the staff directly, and specifying what the company intends to do to doing to turn things around, one would assume that the CEO went some way towards changing what had probably been a rather uncertain climate amongst the staff at Palm.
Rather than keeping the staff in the dark, his memo works to inform and reassure them.
Bluewood Training Ltd, March 2010. www.bluewoodtraining.com