Dave's not here

I figured the CEO of Boeing wouldn't last long after the door plug blew off the Max jet over Saint Vincent Hospital. And he didn't. Dave Calhoun says he'll stay around no longer than the end of the year, and I suspect he'll be ushered out before then. The company had bumped its mandatory retirement age up by two years to keep him in office, but now nobody wants that. His $22 million-a-year ride is coming to an end.

There's not a lot of joy, or even relief, to be taken from Calhoun's departure, but I don't feel sorry for him, either. He's another corporate suit whose main job was to make himself, his board, and the company's shareholders richer. He failed miserably at that last part – the shareholders didn't make out – while at the same time the culture that he represents jeopardized the lives of innocent people.

He's not an airplane guy, he's an accountant, and therein lies the rub. In industry after industry, the bean counters have taken over. They know not nearly enough about the businesses they are handed. They're spreadsheet people, balance sheet people. Sometimes they bring in a lot of money in the short term. Other times they run the operation directly into the ground – in Boeing's case, literally.

The new CEO will be saying all the right things about quality and safety, but it's going to be hard to sell that line. Because it will be the exact same speech that Calhoun made when he took over in 2019.

Calhoun's second in command is someone named Stephanie Pope. Guess what? She's an accountant with an MBA, and a borderline nepo baby at that. "Your captain for today's flight is Nikki Haley." Lord help us. I don't know if we're at the end stage of capitalism, the way the commie kids say, but whatever stage it is, it isn't good.

Meanwhile, the feds are sniffing around in some sort of criminal investigation into the Portland disaster. I wouldn't get much hope up about anything meaningful happening there. They'll probably charge Boeing, the corporation, with a crime. But you can't put a corporation in jail, and so a fine is about the only punishment we're likely to see. The next Calhoun will have the company pay it, and there'll be lots of window dressing, but I suspect they'll be back to the business of making the almighty buck before too long.

The next domino in the row is the CEO of Alaska Airlines, Ben Minicucci. His outfit has some quality control and safety issues, too, as the door plug blowout clearly illustrated. And he's a former heavy maintenance guy who really should know better. 

The passengers' lawyers are going to carve Minicucci up if he doesn't shell out a huge settlement, and Wall Street will carve him up if he does. His compensation package is something like $6.5 million a year. There may not be too many more of those.


  1. I’d still like to know who blocked the seats next to the door plug, and when, and why.

  2. The professional manager is the modern equivalent of "those who can't, teach".

    Nothing is going to happen to Boeing itself. Their HQ moved to greater DC for a reason and it wasn't for the engineering talent.

  3. Bean counters are valuable staff people. But, should never be operators.

  4. Proving once again that if you’re really bad at what you do, there’s a place for you in management.
    Or government.

  5. Funny thing is, Calhoun was the guy brought in to clean things up after the whole MAX fiasco!

  6. Well, Phil Knight is an "accountant" as well. He's done ok.

  7. Shouldn't he only get his golden parachute by jumping out the blown out door?...

  8. Wonder if there is any empirical work about industry expertise vs functional expertise & CEO performance


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