Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Politics and business = oil and water???

I'm dumbfounded by the sheer stupidity of business leaders who seem to think they can express - loudly - highly partisan political opinions, without alienating customers who hold different opinions.  It seems like a bad case of hubris . . . and we all know what that leads to.

An excellent example is the open letter on Donald Trump's candidacy signed by dozens of Silicon Valley leaders in July.  They undoubtedly have the right to their opinions, and a disclaimer attached to the letter emphasized that they were signing it in their personal capacities:  but they added their companies' or organizations' names as well.  If they were signing as individuals, why mention the latter?  Clearly, there was a strong identification of, or link between, individual and entity.

Now that Mr. Trump is our President-elect, Silicon Valley is changing its tune rather rapidly.

The valley built almost no inroads to Donald Trump and his administration’s inner circle. The one tech leader who is now on the transition team, venture capitalist Peter Thiel, was roundly criticized here for giving money to elect the real estate baron.


So in the wake of the election, Silicon Valley is trying to pivot, as startup gurus like to say.

. . .

But if tech CEOs make public overtures to Trump, they risk a backlash among many of their employees, customers, partners and netizens everywhere. This is a difficult line to walk.

. . .

The industry is seen as part of the elite, which many Trump supporters rejected for being out-of-touch with the concerns of working people.

“We need to talk about tech as it exists in places like the Rust Belt and the Midwest,” said Jonathan Godfrey, vice president for public affairs at The App Association.

Silicon Valley has to be realistic. “There are going to be grudges that will be held for a very long time,” said Larry Irving, formerly vice president of global government affairs for Hewlett-Packard and now a telecommunications and information technology consultant.

There's more at the link.

I'm sure that grudges will, indeed, be held.  If I were in Mr. Trump's shoes, I'd hold them by the bushel!  It's entirely possible to oppose someone's policies without trashing the person himself.  Silicon Valley, and the US press corps, seem to have lost sight of that reality . . . and now those chickens are coming home to roost.

I also note that there's no mention in the above article about how individuals feel about the invasion of their privacy by tech firms, so that information about us is gathered without our consent, bought and sold without so much as a by-your-leave, and used to make gigantic profits for tech companies at our expense.  This doesn't even appear to have entered upon the thought horizon of Silicon Valley, where Big Data has for too long been a vital tool in Big Brother's arsenal.  However, it concerns a lot of citizens, who are sick and tired of it, and want their privacy back.  Include me in that number.  It's not just about politicians, Silicon Valley - it's about us, too.

Then we have intemperate outbursts that can cause serious harm to companies.  Witness the Grubhub imbroglio last week.  Another one is providing some spicy exchanges (you should pardon the expression).

Penzeys Spices ... is continuing to elicit both dissension and commendation for spicy remarks made by the company's CEO implying that voters who cast a ballot for President-elect Donald Trump were racist.

This past week, the Wisconsin company recently found itself at the center of political controversy after news broke that CEO and president Bill Penzey said in an email newsletter to customers that those who voted for Trump "just committed the biggest act of racism in American history since Wallace stood in the schoolhouse doorway 53 years ago."

Those strong statements have ruffled the feathers of some on social media, with a few Twitter users even starting a #BoycottPenzeys hashtag in an effort to get customers to abstain from buying the company's spices.

"Goodbye Penzeys!" a Twitter user posted. "We've been a customer for over a decade. Loved your spices now hello The Spice House! #BoycottPenzeys"

However, some social media users were quick to praise Penzeys Spices for its denunciation of racism.

"Just placed my first order," another Twitter user posted. "Thank you for opposing racism, and embracing love! #Penzeys"

And of course, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke weighed in too, tweeting: "This typical hate-filled white elitist lefty doesn't live around black people or have stores in black neighborhoods."

Again, more at the link.  I might add that my wife and I have been customers of Penzey's for some time, and have large quantities of their products in our pantry.  However, from now on we'll be looking to The Spice House for our requirements.  They don't allow politics to intrude into business, and even have a discount code of NOPOLITICS, which gets you free shipping!  I like it - and I'll take the savings, thanks.



Brad said...

The problem is that Silicon Valley is fully converged. The progressives have driven any other political viewpoints underground, creating a giant filter bubble. They cannot conceive that anyone might disagree with them.

They viewed their letter as virtue signalling. They never imagined that it might backfire.

"Awkward" - indeed.

Jim b. said...

Oi agree, they forgot the first rule of business, customers buy your products. Don't alienate them. A foot in the mouth usually alienates customers.

Jonathan H said...

This reminds me of the troubles Chipotle has had. I've seen people talk about how they go to Moe's or Qdoba to get food that is as good or better, cheaper, and without a side of politics.

wheels said...

So, if the CEO of Penzey's believes that I'm a racist for having voted for Trump, then he must have no problem with being characterized as a criminal and a traitor for having voted for Hillary, right?

Duke of URL VFM#391 said...

May I recommend a company I've dealt with for years? Excellent service, huge variety of choices, low prices...

Anonymous said...

My wife loves Penzey's spices. Going to show her this and encourage her to switch.


Jeff Weimer said...

The best part about the Spice House - it's Penzey's sister - who runs the original business due to inheritance, and they're not on speaking terms over politics, so I've heard. Explains the NOPOLITICS shipping code.

I've also heard (form a commenter at Ace of Spades whose SIL worked briefly at Penzey's) that he's a grade-A jerkoff who treats his employees like garbage.

Anonymous said...

I used to get their catalogue, Good recipes. However, starting three years ago or so, the politics became more and more strident and the assumptions about their customers less and less realistic. Aside from the nice one featuring people from West Texas, it became a PC warm-n-fuzzy fest.

The Spice Shop here I come.


Mogrith said...

Benson's has a small number of very good no-salt blends
No Idea of their politics and like it that way.

Anonymous said...

I'd recommend the San Francisco Herb Co. Their focus is primarily restaurants, so the quantities are larger than would be for individuals. The freshness is impressive as you can smell the herbs thru the packaging. I've ordered from them for a couple of decades. (Unfortunately, I have to throw the excess away as it gets old.)

-- Steve

Mrs. Graybeard said...

Placed my order at Spice House.Thanks!

DaddyBear said...

Business and politics shouldn't mix, especially at the retail level. A CEO, especially, shouldn't insult part of the customer base by denigrating their choices in the ballot box in promotional material.

I'll certainly be careful to not give my business to places like Penzey's or GrubHub, just as I wouldn't to places that are vociferously and rudely against liberal causes. I pay for goods and services, not sermons and brow beating.

Uncle Lar said...

Anyone else note a curious similarity between the anti Trump crowd and the Puppy kickers from the last four years of Sad Puppies efforts to take back the Hugo awards?
Lies, slander, strawman attacks, all those favored tactics of the radical left wing elite.
One could almost think that they might just be some of the same people, wouldn't one.

Reg T said...

Thanks for posting this, Peter. I've been a customer of Penzey's for years, spending hundreds of dollars on spices. My wife and I noticed they were getting pretty "Kumbiyah" along the way, but didn't know they were calling us racist. They can KMA for all the business they'll (not) get from me in the future. I'll definitely switch to The Spice House, especially if there is bad blood between them - AND they are wise enough to leave the politics at home.

I hate to think that some of my money has gone to supporting the Left, but I guess it probably has.

JayNola said...

I got an email from Penney's decrying Trump and Trump voters post election. My immediate response was to punch the unsubscribe from everything button. I'll find someone else to buy cinnamon from.
Hopefully they'll make the connection.