Michael Dell’s Jerry Yang Moment
Dell’s last shareholder meeting was an unpleasant one for Michael Dell. An SEC filing released Tuesday revealed that about a quarter of investors–25.1 percent–withheld their votes for his return to the board of directors, giving him the lowest tally of supporting votes among the 11 directors at Dell.
A nasty blow for the company founder, but one that’s not all that surprising, given the decline in Dell’s (DELL) earnings per share over the past two years and discontent over the company’s settlement of SEC allegations that it manipulated accounts in order to meet business performance targets and broke “negligence-based fraud provisions” in its dealings with Intel.
“Mr. Dell is quite properly an iconic figure at the company,” Stanford professor and corporate governance expert Joseph Grundfest told The New York Times. “It is extremely rare to have that amount of shareholder disaffection directed toward an executive who is so central to the company’s past, present and future.”
Well, not that rare. Yahoo (YHOO) co-founder and CEO Jerry Yang didn’t fare so well during the company’s 2008 shareholder vote (better than Dell, though), and we all know what happened to him. Not that Dell will follow a similar path. As company spokesman Jess Blackburn reminds us 25 percent of votes withheld is quite an endorsement if you look at it the right way. Said Blackburn, “The Dell board had expressed its confidence in Michael Dell’s leadership and the majority of shareholders agreed with them.”