Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Mistry of Sacking


The board of TATA Sons, on Monday, decided to sack Cyrus Mistry, who had been serving as the Chairman at India’s largest conglomerate, thereby sending the entire Indian business community into a state of shock. Ratan Tata himself would be the interim chairman till they find a suitable replacement for Mistry. Non-performance and undermining TATA group’s value system are being touted as possible reasons for the ouster; however, the real reason for Mistry’s sacking remains to be a mystery. While this unprecedented move could spark a battle between two of Mumbai’s oldest business families that share very close ties (the Mistrys own about a fifth of TATA Sons), here’s a look at some famous sackings of the world:

1. Walt Disney

At the mere age of 18, Walt Disney was fired from his first animation job at the Kansas City Star newspaper. His editor cited his “lack of imagination and good ideas” as the reason. Disney then acquired Laugh-O-Gram, an animation studio but drove it into bankruptcy. After moving to Hollywood with his brother, they started up the Disney Brothers’ Studio, and eventually created Mickey Mouse and Disneyland. As a film producer he received 22 Academy Awards from 59 nominations and went on to win more individual Oscars than anyone else.

2. Steve Jobs

Not many know that Jobs was fired from Apple, the company he cofounded in 1984. He was in his 30s and Apple had just announced the revolutionary “new” Macintosh with a mouse and first ever Graphical User Interface (GUI) on a commercially sold computer. However, at $2500, the computer was hard to sell. Jobs wanted to go ahead and spend more money on the Macintosh, but his board wanted to focus on the older but more successful Apple II. He was fired by the then CEO of Apple, John Sculley. By 1997 Apple was a sinking ship and was going through a huge financial crisis. Its competitor Microsoft had launched Windows 95 and was taking the tech world by storm. Apple needed a better operating system with modern features and flopped for one run by Steve Jobs’ new company called NeXT. Talks were initiated between the two companies and finally Apple acquired NeXT for 427 million dollars. Steve Jobs joined Apple under the title of an advisor and rest is history.

3. Thomas Edison

Edison always conducted experiments while working at Western Union. During one of his night shifts in in 1867, he was experimenting with batteries when he spilled some sulfuric acid that ate through the floor and onto his boss’ desk below. The next morning he was fired and went on to invent the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the ever-lasting, practical electric light bulb.

4. JK Rowling

Rowling worked as a secretary for the London office of Amnesty International, but dreamt of becoming a writer. She secretly wrote stories on her work computer and daydreamed about a teenage wizard named Harry Potter. Her employers finally got fed up, giving her the boot.  Getting fired helped kick-start her true ambitions and she wrote the first Harry Potter book shortly after getting canned. Her severance check helped support her over the next few years. Today, she's a multi-billionaire author, having penned one of the most successful book series of all time.

5. Louis van Gaal

Even the sports fraternity has not remained untouched by high profile canning. Louis van Gaal was sacked as the Chief of the Manchester United Football Club within 48 hours of his side winning the FA Cup, beating Crystal Palace 2-1. The club claimed that van Gaal was let go because ManU had played poorly that year, scoring only 49 league goals, failing to qualify for Champions League, and finishing fifth in the Premier League table.

By: 
Sumit Chakravarty
Faculty - INLEAD

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