Chicago should embrace new Motorola CEO
December 22, 2003
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Motorola's board of
directors made Edward J. Zander, 56, Chicago's most influential
local technology executive when they named the former Sun Microsystems
Inc. president their new chairman and CEO.
Motorola to leadership status could have a big impact on this
town if the Brooklyn native finds success in Chicago away from
his current West Coast home. Our town should roll out the red
carpet for him like it did for Boeing. Get him involved.
My bet: Motorola President
and CEO Mike Zafirovski, a contender for the top job, will be
wooed away by another company within six months. Too bad; Zafirovski
has a good reputation as a leader. Zander told the Sun Times he
and Zafirovski should bond in a hot tub. I'd pour cold water on
that idea working.
Praise the Motorola
directors for what they didn't do. Rumors swirled weeks ago that
former Ameritech and Tellabs CEO Richard Notebaert was a candidate.
Notebaert has his hands full turning around Colorado-based Qwest
Communications International Inc. Maybe he can sell Qwest to SBC
as he did Ameritech. I'd like to keep Motorola's headquarters
giant is prospering in Chicago. That's Apple Computer Corp., which
opened a flagship retail store on North Michigan Avenue last June.
"It's the highest-trafficked
Apple retail store worldwide," says Ron Johnson, 45, senior
vice president and the man Apple founder Steve Jobs recruited
to launch Apple's highly touted retail effort. "The Chicago
store averages 30,000 visitors per week," Johnson said.
What's the hot seller
this holiday season? Digital music. "We're selling one iPod
(Apple's digital music player) every 10 minutes," Johnson
A Midwesterner by birth,
Johnson fondly recalls shopping at Marshall Field's in his youth.
"There are five key places in the world we need to be. One
of those is Michigan Avenue," he said.
If you haven't shopped
the store, drop in. It's a marvelous customer experience. The
service is exceptional. The staff is courteous and well-trained.
There's even a waiting list to work for Apple. "We have 17,000
applicants for 1,000 retail positions," Johnson said. "It's
harder to get a job at an Apple store than it is to get admitted
to Stanford University," quips Johnson. There's a sign of
the economic times.
"People in Chicago
have to tell their friends," says an enthusiastic Scott Goldberg,
21, a Northbrook native and undergraduate advertising major at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Goldberg and his
classmates came to Chicago to recommend technology marketing approaches
to the city.
What did the students
find? Chicagoans are somewhat cynical. We go about our business.
We don't spread the word about our town. We might even be a conservative
and insular lot. We're like mini-New Yorkers. "Guys in ties,"
says Goldberg. But his classmates want to change all that.
As the economy rebounds,
they want to help Chicago become a hub of technology entrepreneurship.
The recommended approach: Appeal to youth and creativity. Present
the city's livability as an attraction. Showcase our arts, music,
dining and theater scene and our vibrant city life to bring in
the young brains.
Is it the dot-com thing
all over again? Not according to recent research conducted by
Robert Weissbourd, president of Chicago-based RW Ventures and
Chris Barry of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
Weissbourd's study concludes that the cities that will prosper
tomorrow are the ones that attract more educated workers.
Will the recommended
marketing campaign see the light of day? Probably not right away.
No money. But Chicago's defacto chief marketing officer, Paul
O'Connor, president of World Business Chicago, called the Illini
student work "brilliant."
The bright side: Despite
today's public sector budget crisis, bridges are growing between
the University of Illinois and our town. "The university's
relationship with Chicago is becoming stronger and deeper,"
says Charles "Chip" Zukoski, vice chancellor for research.
He sponsored the initiative.
That's not all. The
Association of University Technology Managers reported in the
Chronicle of Higher Education that the University of Illinois
yielded 12 start-ups last year. Not as many as MIT or the University
of California, each with 23, but just one away from Stanford with
13. Keep it up, Chip.
Krauss is a Chicago based tech writer and consultant, and senior
vice president for Hostway Corp., Chicago.