Ed Whitacre

  • Aired:  02/06/13
  •  | Views: 12,191

"American Turnaround" author Ed Whitacre disputes the notion that General Motors TARP funds amounted to a socialist government takeover. (7:21)

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT THE FORMER CHAIRMAN AND C.E.O. OF AT&T AND GM.

HIS BOOK IS CALLED" AMERICAN TURNAROUND, REINVENTING AT&T AND THE WAY WE DO BUSINESS IN THE U.S.A.

PLEASE WELCOME ED WHITACRE.

HELLO.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

>> THANK YOU.

>> Jon: SO YOU ACTUALLY RAN GM -- YOU WERE ASKED TO RUN IT POST BAILOUT.

IN THE BAILOUT THEY CALLED YOU AND SAID, HEY, MAN, WHAT ARE YOU UP TO?

COME ON IN.

>> THEY CALLED ME AND SAID WE'RE GOING TO EMERGE FROM BANKRUPTCY, WILL YOU COME RUN GM.

>> Jon: IN THAT MOMENT WHAT WERE YOU DOING AT THAT TIME?

>> NOTHING.

[ LAUGHTER ]

>> Jon: SO HOW DID YOU WEIGH THOSE OPTIONS?

NOTHING, GM, YOU WENT WITH GM.

>> I WENT WITH GM.

YOU KNOW, I DIDN'T KNOW MUCH.

>> Jon: YOU HAD ONLY RUN AT&T, SO -- LET ME ASK YOU A QUESTION: ONE OF THE BIG ISSUES FOR GM AND

THE TAXPAYER BAILOUT WAS THAT PRIVATE MONEY WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO BAIL THEM OUT, THAT

THE GOVERNMENT HAD TO STEP IN.

IS THAT TRUE AT THAT TIME?

>> THAT'S TRUE.

NOBODY STEPPED UP WITH MONEY FROM THE PRIVATE SECTOR.

>> Jon: SO THAT IS TRUE?

>> THAT IS TRUE.

>> Jon: SO I WASN'T A SOCIALIST TAKEOVER FROM THE GETGO?

IT WAS NOT.

NOBODY STEPPED UP WITH PRIVATE MONEY.

>> Jon: IT JUST TURNED INTO ONE.

HOLD ON A SECOND.

LET ME ASK YOU THIS: WHAT ABOUT AFTER THE GOVERNMENT PUT MONEY IN IT AND THEY STARTED TO TURN

THINGS AROUND, COULD THERE HAVE BEEN AN IPO AT THAT TIME THAT COULD HAVE RAISED THE -- WHAT

DID WE PUT IN $43 BILLION?

>> ABOUT $50 BILLION.

>> Jon: I ALWAYS ROUND DOWN.

>> IT'S A BIG NUMBER.

>> Jon: DID -- IF THEY HAD DONE AN IPO EARLIER COULD THE TAXPAYER HAVE GOTTEN THEIR MONEY

BACK, MAYBE A LITTLE NICE PROFIT THERE?

I KNOW THEY DID AN IPO FOR HALF OF THAT?

>> HAD WE DONE THE IPO AND THE GOVERNMENT SOLD ITS ENTIRE SHARE, WE THE TAXPAYER WOULD

HAVE GOTTEN MORE BACK BUT WE'RE ON THE PATH TO GET IT ALL BACK.

COULDN'T DO AN IPO EARLIER THAN WE DID BECAUSE HE YOU HAVE TO SEE FINANCIALS, IS GM MAKING S MONEY?

NOT MAKING MONEY?

HOW IS IT GOING?

IS IT GOING TO SURVIVE?

HOW ARE THE VEHICLES?

YOU COULDN'T DO ILL EARLIER.

>> Jon: LET ME ASK YOU A QUESTION: HOW ARE THEIR VEHICLES?

>> THE BEST.

>> Jon: NOW, WHY DIDN'T THEY DO THAT BEFORE?

[LAUGHTER]

WHY DID THEY WAIT UNTIL THEY GOT BANKRUPT?

[LAUGHTER]

SORRY THAT'S RIDICULOUS.

THAT IPO THING THAT IS INTERESTING TO ME BECAUSE -- SO IN THAT IPO WHY DIDN'T WE DO IT?

DID THE ADMINISTRATION NOT WANT THEIR MONEY BACK AT THAT TIME, THEY WANTED TO WAIT A LITTLE BIT?

>> THEY DIDN'T WANT TO SELL ALL THEIR STOCK BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T.

WHY, YOU HAVE TO ASK THEM, I DON'T KNOW.

>> Jon: JUDGING FROM THEIR RECORD, I DON'T KNOW THAT THEY ARE GOING TO TELL ME.

[ LAUGHTER ]

WOULD YOU HAVE LIKED TO HAVE -- IF YOU WERE RUNNING US, WOULD YOU HAVE SOLD AT THAT IPO?

>> I WOULD HAVE, YES.

>> Jon: YOU THINK THEY DIDN'T SELL AT THE IPO BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO HAVE INFLUENCE OR THEY

DIDN'T TRUST IN THE DECISION TO DO IT?

THEY DIDN'T THINK IT WOULD WORK OUT SO THEY JUST PICKED RUN OR THEY WANT AID HAND IN RUNNING GM?

>> YOU KNOW, THEY WERE GREAT.

THEY LET US AT GM RUN GM.

WE GOT NO INTERFERENCE FROM THE GOVERNMENT.

IT WAS TERRIFIC.

THEY WERE GREAT PARTNERS.

THEY JUST LET US BRING IT BACK.

WE ALL WORKED TOGETHER.

WE GOT VERY LITTLE ASSISTANCE, VERY LITTLE HELP -- WE GOT NONE.

THEY LET US DO IT.

>> Jon: I HAVE TO TELL YOU: I THINK A GREAT PARTNER IN BUSINESS WOULD BE SOMEBODY THAT

GIVES YOU $50 BILLION AND DOESN'T SAY ANYTHING AFTER THAT.

>> IT WAS GREAT.

>> Jon: I WOULD LIKE A PARTNER LIKE THAT.

>> IT WAS GREAT.

>> Jon: THEY DIDN'T -- DID THEY PUT PRESSURE ON GM TO SAY WE WANT MORE ECONOMICAL CARS.

WE WANT THE CHEVY VOLT -- WE WANT TO MAKE THAT OR THE --

>> THE VOLT.

>> Jon: WE WANT TO MAKE THAT A CENTERPIECE OR THAT WAS A DECISION MADE WITHIN GM.

>> THAT WAS A GM DECISION.

COMPANIES HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO EXPLORE NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND DO THINGS WITH ALL THE

DISCUSSION ABOUT CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT.

THAT WAS DONE IN GM AND IT'S A GREAT VEHICLE.

>> Jon: RIGHT, RIGHT.

SO YOU ARE HAPPY WITH THE ARRANGEMENT?

>> YEAH, THEY LET US DO IT.

>> Jon: WHEN YOU WENT IN THERE, HOW DIFFICULT FOR YOU? YOU HAD NOT RUN A CAR COMPANY PREVIOUSLY?

[LAUGHTER]

>> NEVER.

>> Jon: YOU ARE THE MOST GENIAL GUY THAT HAS RUN THESE COMPANIES.

THERE'S A BUNCH OF GUYS THERE 20 YEARS, 30 YEARS, THEY'VE BEEN WORKING HARD.

YOU WALK IN AND YOU'VE RUN A COMPANY BUT IT'S AT&T.

ARE THEY MAD AT YOU?

ARE THEY MEAN TO YOU?

HOW DO YOU GET THEIR TRUST, RESPECT AND ENTHUSIASM?

>> I ASKED WHAT WENT WRONG AT GM.

ONE OF THE ANSWERS WAS WE DIDN'T DO ANYTHING WRONG, THE ECONOMY GOT US.

IT WAS INTERESTING I SAID IT DIDN'T GET A LOT OF OTHER CAR COMPANIES, YOU KNOW SO WHY DID

IT PICK ON US.

>> Jon: WHERE DID THE MEETING GO FROM THERE?

>> SORT OF DOWNHILL FROM THERE.

[ LAUGHTER ]

>> Jon: RIGHT.

WHAT WAS YOUR DUE DILIGENCE CENTER FIELD HOW LONG DID YOU SPEND THERE GAINING THE

INFORMATION YOU NEEDED TO START MAKING DECISIONS TO REORGANIZE THE COMPANY?

>> I WAS APPOINTED CHAIRMAN IN AUGUST, NOT C.E.O.

I BECAME C.E.O. IN DECEMBER.

I SPENT THE TIME FROM AUGUST TO DECEMBER STUDYING THE COMPANY.

>> Jon: AND HOW LONG DID IT TAKE -- IT WAS -- YOU WRITE A LOT ABOUT HOW IT WAS ORGANIZED

IN AN AK TEN TRICK WAY, IN A WAY THAT YOU DID NOT THINK WAS RATIONAL.

>> RIGHT.

IT WAS MATRIX MANAGEMENT TO THE HILT.

EVERYBODY REPORTED TO EVERYBODY ELSE AND NOBODY REPORTED TO ANYBODY AND NOBODY HAD A BOSS.

IT WAS BUREAUCRATIC AND CONFUSED.

>> Jon: NO ACCOUNTABILITY.

JOB ONE WAS THE ACCOUNTABILITY.

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU COULD TURN AROUND ANY COMPANY?

DO YOU FEEL LIKE THERE'S A METHODOLOGY TO IT THAT WOULD WORK ON ANYTHING?

>> WELL, I THINK I COULD MAKE IT BETTER, YES.

I THINK THAT'S BETTER.

YOU GIVE THEM RESPONSIBILITY, AUTHORITY AND YOU HOLD PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE AND PARTICIPATE IN

IT TOGETHER.

THINGS GET BETTER.

PEOPLE ARE THE BEST ASSET.

>> Jon: TELL ME MORE ABOUT THESE PEOPLE YOU SPEAK OF?

>> THAT'S ANY PEOPLE.

>> Jon: I LIKE THE SOUND OF IT.

DO YOU HAVE A COUPLE MINUTES TO STICK AROUND?

SURE.

>> Jon: AMERICA'S TURNAROUND IT'S ON THE

Loading...