Why Steve Jobs should run General Motors

Jobs did a brilliant job of turning around Apple. He might be able to do the same for GM

General Motors is looking for tens of billions of bailout dollars from the US Feds to stave off bankruptcy. Here's a simpler solution: Get Steve Jobs to take over the top slot at GM. So says the New York Times' Thomas Friedman, and despite my dislike of Jobs, I think Friedman is right.

In his column, Friedman writes about watching a TV interview earlier this year with Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli, who said the auto industry needed US$25 billion in loan guarantees, not as a bailout, but to help car companies innovate. His response:

I could not help but shout back at the TV screen: "We have to subsidize Detroit so that it will innovate? What business were you people in other than innovation? If we give you another $25 billion, will you also do accounting?"

The column then goes on to enumerate the bone-headed, short-sighted idiocy of the US auto industry, which has fought innovation every step of the way, and refused to look at the future. For example, he quotes GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz saying that hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius, "make no economic sense." Lutz also told D Magazine of Dallas that global warming "is a total crock of [expletive]."

In return for any bailout, Friedman proposes, the current management and board of GM should go, to be replaced with people capable of turning around the business. After adding other strings that should be attached to a bailout, he offers up this one, slightly tongue in cheek:

Lastly, somebody ought to call Steve Jobs, who doesn't need to be bribed to do innovation, and ask him if he'd like to do national service and run a car company for a year. I'd bet it wouldn't take him much longer than that to come up with the GM iCar.

While I dislike Jobs for his arrogance, his vindictiveness, and the way he uses attack-dog lawyers to muzzle any criticism or dissent, he's probably one of the few people who could turn around GM. He's a great innovator and designer, and understands what consumers are looking for. He did a brilliant job of turning around Apple. He might be able to do the same for GM.

And if not Jobs, pick someone else from the tech industry to run GM. The auto industry has been moribund and hidebound for decades, and incapable of innovation, while the tech industry has been the country's innovation engine. It's time for a tech exec to turn around Detroit.

But not Steve Ballmer, please. We've had madmen running the auto industry for long enough, and look what they've done. One more madman won't solve the problem.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags steve jobsbailoutgeneral motors

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Preston Gralla

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?