Panic at RenCen. It’s not that people are leaving GM. It’s how they leave. Two weeks ago, Opel chief Karl-Friedrich Stracke presented numbers to Dan Akerson. Akerson fires him. Opel gets two interim chiefs in a week. Last Thursday, Opel’s new design chief Dave Lyon doesn’t even start his job. Today, media in the U.S. and Germany report that Lyon had been escorted from the building and to a waiting car by GM’s head of personnel. A day later, global marketing chief Joel Ewanick suddenly leaves. Instead of wishing him all the best for his future endeavors, GM spokesman Greg Martin puts a knife in Ewanick’s back: “He failed to meet the expectations the company has of an employee.”
It took them two years to come to that uncivilized conclusion? Ewanick was hired as U.S. marketing chief in May 2010. Apparently, he exceeded expectations, because half a year later, Ewanick was promoted to global chief marketing officer. The leaked reasons for Ewanick’s ouster. Facebook and soccer, don’t ring true. In a normal company, when a marketing chief decides not to put ads on Facebook and to ditch football for soccer, a Facebook and football loving CEO simply would call the marketing chief and ask whether he’s serious. The same day, there would be a comment that the marketing chief was misquoted, in a normal company.
It all looks like Dan Akerson is panicking. The GM stock is at an all-time low. GM is losing market share. When July numbers will be announced this week, GM won’t look so good, industry oracles say. Mass executions always are great to deflect criticism – for a while.