Activists Don't Just Go After 'Loser Companies,' Plus Cramer's Top Takeaways From CorpGov 2017

The role of corporate activism is expanding becoming more ubiquitous by the day.

From intense public campaigns, such as Marcato Capital Management's proxy battle with Buffalo Wild Wings  (BWLD) that forced CEO Sally Smith to depart, to less public spats there's been no shortage of fodder for insurgents and those of us interested in the world of corporate governance.

So when TheStreet's Jim Cramer and experts (activists, CEOs, lawyers and professors) gathered at the Marriott Essex House in Manhattan on Monday for The Deal's Corporate Governance Conference there was no shortage of memorable moments.

Here's what Cramer had to say about how CEOs and board directors can stay in their jobs -- and create value -- amid activist investors:

The Changing Dynamic of the Corporate World

Leslie Moonves, Chairman/CEO at CBS
Leslie Moonves, Chairman/CEO at CBS

"There are ethereal and existential threats to the CEO that are unheard of five years ago," said Cramer. "Disintermediation by new technology that didn't exist when the CEOs took the job; cyber-attacks that seem like science fiction for these board members who are now expected to understand them; a president who is pitting CEOs against their own constituents."

Editors' pick: Originally published June 6.

"There's No Listening" From Activist

"We need a code of conduct that merits thoughtful discourse and reasonable behavior that works for all of us," said Cramer.

"Most of the insurgents, as opposed to engaged shareholders, have already made up their mind -- there is no listening," Cramer continued.

Jaw on the Floor: 'Say What?'

Citrix office
Citrix office

During the middle of the panel called Cybersecurity Risk: Managing the Unmanageable, Cramer was stopped in his tracks by one of the panelists.

"Wait, say that again?" Cramer asked.

"Companies are proactively building up their Bitcoin [holdings] so they can pay up," Citrix Systems Inc. (CTXS) CEO Kirill Tatarinov said.

As another panelist, Gary Steele, CEO of Proofpoint, said, "Every corporation is under attack, all day, every day."

This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.

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