Monday, March 15, 2010

Zenn Motor Company New Executive Short List

In light of the prior story I posted over the weekend concerning alleged misbehavior at Zenn Motor Company, I've been bombarded with questions & concerns expressed by the sizable portion of EEStory followers who are also Zenn investors. Out of the multitude of interests expressed therein, I've selected one to dissect in this article:

Dear EEStory Blogger B,

Theoretically, suppose the handling of this incident at Zenn leads to the departure of Brian Cott from Zenn, who would you recommend fill his role?


---EEStory Regular---


Dear EEStory Regular,

This is a good question which focuses on Zenn's future rather than it's past and if considered carefully might turn some lemons into lemonade. So, to whom should we trust the 11% EEStor fortune's immediate future? ( Before I go too far, please let me note that my occasional jovial take on events should in no way be interpreted as trivializing any trauma experienced by the alleged victims. I mean no disrespect. )

First things first, let's sketch some of the attributes of what we're looking for here. Any new executives at Zenn must pass the Dick Weir DNA test. That is to say, it is a good idea to examine the genes of all candidates to ensure that at least some distant 4th cousin of Dick Weir is placed into the open slot. Secondly, if this person had, for example, saved Dick Weir's life in the war or introduced him to Betty or funded some of Dick's early projects, you're going to have a tight relationship there. You want the new executive to be bros with Dick & Tom. Picture Fist Bumps, ok?

Top picks in this category would be Dell's Greg Weir who is Tom Weir's twin brother. Another option would be Dick Jr. Can you imagine the conference calls if Dick Jr or Greg were up in Toronto?

"Dad, will you please give me a battery, Dad? Dad, please. Please, Dad. Dad, the battery, please. Please Dad. Dad I need the battery. Mom, will you tell Dad to get me a battery? It's NOT FAIR!! Tom's got a battery, why don't I get one! I need the battery Dad!"

Ok, you're right, having a family dynasty turns everyone else into outsiders. What you want is someone with a relationship but also some dispassionate appreciation for the bottom line. Someone who is going to take his/her cue directly from the numbers. To that end, perhaps Alan Topfer, Mort's son would be a good candidate. He already manages portions of Mort's wealth and the Weir's know him from their days at Dell.

You think someone with closer ties to Kleiner Perkins might help Zenn, after all, my partner's partner is the partner of my partner, right? ....someone with all the Kleiner Perkins connections to power, particularly political power? Well, if you're looking for someone who has Kleiner's exact vision of success & who is almost robotic in carrying out the will of John Doerr, you're going to have to put forward President Barak Obama who has pretty much rubber stamped anything Kleiner Perkins advances as slightly more than a half-baked idea. And YES, you know that I am very biased on this point in believing that practically everything President Obama has supported with regard to renewable energy is worth far far less than what he could achieve as one of the leaders Zenn Motor Company's executive team. Crazy talk, sure. That's what they all say. Raving lunatic, that's me!

Ok, if we're looking for something more level headed, let's point out that any new Zenn executive really needs to have--in additional to Weir genes--deep ties into the automotive OEM and Tier One contacts along with experience with Mergers and Acquisitions. That brings us to Senator Carl Levin who is rumored to be very close to retiring or should be (oops, did I let that out of the bag?). Who else besides Levin knows the ins & outs of the automotive industry without actually being in it, except for that minor issue of owning General Motors (M&A. Check.)? Additionally, we know Levin is excited about the prospects of EEStor because Lockheed Martin told him he should be excited about it....which lead to smiles all around. Or how about Michigan Governor, Jennifer Granholm? (her political future is not promising given the snubs her team issues bloggers like me for a few innocent EEStor discussion topics). OK, Ok, Wrong side of the aisle, but good idea? True but I don't think Representative John Carter TX-R has the proper ties into the automotive industry....even if he is convinced EEStor will transform it.

Lockheed Martin connection? You have to put George Karayannis in the top position if you want a Lockheed connection. Who else has stated unequivocally that "absolutely they will support EEStor" if utility customers want it? That's the sort of conviction we need even if one isn't entirely familiar with EEStor or whether or not it works as they say. Second place goes to Robert J. Stevens, current Lockheed CEO, who, although he doesn't appear to have any strong ties to the automotive industry has strong ties to just about everything else which might lead to some creative thinking about how to maximize Zenn value. For example, picture utility grade storage units with 2 doors and 4 wheels--technically a vehicle but one that's permanently parked at a power plant to level production. These could be stacked and racked like BattPack (say that 3 times fast). This would be consistent with Zenn's license and yet allow Zenn to move into spaces maybe no one was anticipating. That's stealth baby, and Stevens can make that happen. Oh, one more, picture wind mills bolted to the car formerly known as CityZenn. At weighing time, it falls under the license limit, but in use, it makes wind mills "real." (Third place goes to Will Shores, the current manager of the EEStor relationship for Lockheed).

Maybe I'm over thinking all of this. Maybe what's needed isn't so much business acumen or connections but proximity. In that vein, I'd put forward the Pastor of Lakeline Church, conveniently located at 715 Discovery Blvd in Cedar Park, TX just a stone's throw away from EEStor. I think a prayerful partner who can connect video surveillance technologies to their roof for constant shareholder updates would be a great combination in a new Zenn executive.
(Incidently, I made use of the online prayer request form on Lakeline's website. Yes, my prayer request was specifically for the rapid adoption of EEStor technology and the well being of the Weirs. I'm not kidding. You should do the same).

Ok, you want a serious candidate? No kidding around? I'll put my money on any one of William Clay Ford Jr's four children. The oldest one may have recently graduated from Princeton and the youngest is probably about fifteen years old. See that? I think if those kids can run a website and log into conference calls, they can run Zenn. Stop, I'm kidding again.

What this article proves is I have no idea--not even a clue-- who should be the new executive at Zenn. All I know is the future is bright. EEStor and Zenn are bigger than any one person and let's all rally around the future and not stay stuck in a quagmire when we've got so much to be looking forward to and working towards.

Ok, I do have one serious request here. I recommend the Zenn Board of Directors bring forward a female candidate. Give me one good reason why not. (by the way, the women pictured above are all successful executives at Gucci.) Global business experience? Check.

Thank you.