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Titans Clash: Gschwandtner vs. Benioff

O. M. G.

In his blog, Gerhard Gschwandtner, the publisher of SellingPower magazine (for which I frequently write) just body slammed Mark Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com. In his blog, Gerhard accuses Benioff of being an all-around lousy human being who has fooled the mainstream media into treating him like a god.

This is more than just a shot over the bow... it's blowing up a bridge. And since Salesforce.com is a HUGE buyer of magazine and trade advertising, it's more than a gutsy move on Gerhard's part. I think it's fair to say that this kind of criticism from a major media figure in the business press is completely unique.

What's amazing about it, though, isn't just that Gerhard had guts to slam Benioff; it's that he's willing to do it in the middle of a recession, when magazines are struggling for advertising. Every other publication on the planet is busy kissing CEO butt big time, trying to drum up some ad buys.

In my view, though, its past time that somebody with some real business clout started pointing out that CEOs in general, and high tech CEOs in particular, have been getting a free ride in the press. The unrelenting positive coverage that the mainstream churns out has created a culture of entitlement, where CEOs think the world revolves around them.

I've interviewed at least 250 CEOs and I can count the ones that weren't a******s on the fingers of one hand. Sad but true. And I can complain about it all I like (as in "Sales Pros Know More than CEOs"), but the truth is that until some media figures of stature start debunking the CEO myth, those guys are going to keep acting like jerks. Or worse.

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