Jonathan Schwartz is CEO of Sun Microsystems, a Fortune 500 company (#211) with about $11 billion in annual revenues. He became CEO earlier this year when longtime CEO Scott McNealy stepped down. He’s evidently the only Fortune 500 CEO to have a weblog.
First, I’m a big believer in the idea that innovation is self-sustaining when it loses its predictability. I figured I’d do my part to promote self-sustenance. Second, to change the format and fidelity with which what I say is transcribed. No more comments from the pundits “in context.” Now you get them straight from me. Third, to get unfiltered feedback from the community… I promise to listen – from all the constituencies we serve (customers, stockholders, developers, consumers, suppliers… all).
He’s got a tough job ahead of him… slashing thousands of jobs and getting the company back on a profitable track. But after reading a few of his recent posts with his new CEO hat on, I like how he’s using his blog. Some examples:
This April post on why he’ll continue blogging emphasizes the importance of “… unparalleled transparency into everything we do, precisely because it’s the most efficient mechanism to accelerate change…” He sees his blogging as an example of this transparency, and specifically said so again two months later in this post: “You can tell I’m a big fan of transparency – that’s why I write a blog (with comments on, and yes, I read every one, as do a host of others at Sun). It’s why I encourage others to drive the conversation in the market, as well. Transparency’s at least a part of the solution. If not an outright competitive weapon.” This paragraph was preceded by a link to a blog host by a very unhappy customer.
He also walks the talk by hosting a visit from a competitor, a well-known Microsoft blogger named Robert Scoble, who in turned blogged at length about their lunch. They both caught quite a bit of heat from the comments attached to their posts.
I like it that he’s regularly mentioning specific employees in his blog posts, detailing what they do, their recent accomplishments, or their new assignments. He really should include photos in these posts, however, as any mention of a real person with a photo, especially an employee, propels that entry into the blogosphere and email inboxes with a force many times a text-only post.
Lastly, his posts seem to be increasingly less frequent. I’m guessing he’s fallen into the trap of thinking he must have Big and Important Things to blog about because otherwise he’s too busy. He’s not yet mastered the art of blogging very short stories that can be as effective.