But we have come to see all CEOs as kings, not as temporary leaders elected by the shareholders. To the extent that this is Einhorn's point, it's a good one. Shareholders in public companies do tend to get treated like union organizers at Wal-Mart (WMT), and that should not be. We own the companies we invest in, not the CEOs and not the boards.
This is a point that is relevant to other companies besides Apple. Such as, for instance, Google, which is creating a two-class share structure as Business Insider explains, matching what Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg did before going public, as The New Yorker wrote, or the way News Corp. (NWSA) and Viacom (VIA.B) have been run since time out of mind.
Such structures are fine as long as things are working and the CEO is as young and healthy as Larry Page. But unlike corporations, real people die. Rupert Murdoch will die. Sumner Redstone will die. (For that matter so will Page and Zuckerberg.) Companies run as fiefdoms are also liable to make mistakes because there is no real control over what the CEO does other than what his lawyers can't convince a court to let him or her do.
Tim Cook hasn't inherited power from Steve Jobs. He is holding it for his successor. Corporate democracy doesn't always work but it's better than the feudalism infecting so much of Wall Street -- and Silicon Valley, for that matter.It shouldn't take a 40% haircut to start a peasant's revolt. Now excuse me while I invest in pitchfork futures.
At the time of publication the author had positions in AAPL, NWSA, GOOG and DDD. Follow @DanaBlankenhorn This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
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