Tom Petrocelli's take on technology. Tom is the author of the book "Data Protection and Information Lifecycle Management" and a natural technology curmudgeon. This blog represents only my own views and not those of my employer, Enterprise Strategy Group. Frankly, mine are more amusing.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Save Me The Schadenfreude

For those who don't know, schadenfreude is when you take pleasure in someone else's misery. There is probably a lot of that going on in the storage industry today after the conviction of Greg Reyes, former CEO of Brocade, in federal court. Reyes was not always liked and not just because he was successful.

I don't feel any pleasure in his conviction though. For whatever faults he may have had, to be looking at possible decades in jail for something like options backdating is crazy. People commit rape and murder and don't spend as much time in the hoosegow.

What is even more nuts is that he didn't make any money on it himself. That's right. Reyes backdated options for other people but not himself. That suggests to me that he really didn't think it was illegal. Did he think it was scummy? That's between him and his confessor. You don't put people in jail because they do lousy things only illegal ones.

I'm sure this is scaring the heck out of others who sit on corporate boards or are corporate executives in public companies. It's one thing to make an accounting mistake - or even to bend the rules a bit - and have to pay fines to make it go away. It is something else entirely to find yourself a character in HBO's OZ. Okay, make them resign in disgrace if they were caught trying to game the system. Make them pay back the ill gotten gains. But send them up the river? That's not "sending a message that corporate malfeasance won't be tolerated!" It's going after rich people because they're rich and sending them to reeducation camps. Where's the Gang of Four when you need them.

So, if any of you are feeling smug and thinking that Greg got his comeuppance, don't tell me about it. He doesn't deserve this and everyone knows it. This should be a civil not a criminal issue. If he was a bad boy and made an accounting boo-boo, then take away his piggy bank. Don't lock him up in the slammer. That's not justice. It's vengeance and we should be better then that.

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