GM Names Chris Liddell As CFO

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

GM’s embattled finance department is getting new blood today, as The General has poached Microsoft’s Chris Liddell to take over as Chief Financial Officer. GM’s CFO position is being vacated by Ray Young, who was rumored to be on his way out as far back as last summer. Young will become a VP for international operations. The 51 year old Liddell has been Microsoft’s CFO since 2005, and is (irony of ironies) best known for reducing the software giant’s legendary cash position through buybacks and dividends. The Wall Street Journal estimates Liddell oversaw the return of $14b to Microsoft stockholders last fiscal year alone.

Though he was only modestly successful at boosting Microsoft’s stock price, he does have another qualification, explained to the WSJ by ISI Group analyst Bill Whyman

He labored under a dominant personality who has a challenging relationship with the investor community

Which sounds like good experience for life under Ed Whitacre. But unless Liddell demonstrates some serious stock price mojo, he won’t last long. GM’s major goal over the next several years will be pulling off an IPO that will both provide the company with working capital and (in theory anyway) pay off some portion of its taxpayer obligations. On behalf of America’s taxpayers, we wish him the best of luck with that.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • John Horner John Horner on Dec 21, 2009

    He seems like a very capable guy. Hopefully he whips the GM finance staff into shape instead of the other way around.

  • Willman Willman on Dec 21, 2009

    Well if he can KO Randy Couture, that guy should be able to definitely kick some ass as CFO.

  • Zerofoo Zerofoo on Dec 21, 2009

    I've said for years that Microsoft is the GM of software, so GM filling a position with a guy from Microsoft is no surprise. Microsoft suffers from many of the same problems that plague GM. Poor quality product, willful ignorance of competing products, and a policy of assuming that huge market share will last forever. Chris Liddell should fit right in at GM. -ted

  • Matt Cooper Matt Cooper on Dec 21, 2009

    Ha! Never thought I'd see a TTAC article directly relevant to me (as a Microsoftie). Chris's departure was announced quite suddenly about a month ago - interesting to see that the other shoe has now dropped. I wish him the best of luck in his new challenge. I, too, have sometimes wondered if Microsoft is the GM of software. I certainly hope not, and after a few years of reading TTAC I really believe we aren't (yet? still?). We have other problems for sure, but I don't think they're very analogous to GM's problems. @rnc: Couple of small corrections. Microsoft hasn't given stock options since the very early 2000s (I think 2001 may have been the last offering), since our stock price has been essentially flat the entire time. A relatively small portion of most people's incomes is from stock awards - although above a certain level, stock awards can make up a very large portion of one's income. Also, Chris wasn't making 100s of millions a year at Microsoft - our highest paid exec (this year) is Robbie Bach who "only" made ~$7 million.