We've all heard of the BYOD trend, where employees and executives bring their own devices to the office, but how about TOOD (Take Our Old Devices).
When CEO Andrew Miller got the boot from voice-conferencing company Polycom last week, he didn't get the multi-million-dollar kiss many CEOs get as they are shown the door; instead he got a one-time $500,0000 payment and some parting gifts—that is, he got to keep two Lenovo ThinkPads, an iPad, and his Samsung Galaxy 4 phone.
Polycom tucked the severance details, first reported by Michelle Leder at Footnoted.com, into its second-quarter earnings report. Obviously, the CEO's resignation is more than material, and it's standard to provide the broad outlines of a severance package, but why the petty details that Miller was piling his electronic devices into the back of his moving van? After all, the news only indicates how behind the times Polycom is with its company-issued gadgetry. (ThinkPads? Really? And the Galaxy 5 has been out since 2010.)
According to Leder, it's not uncommon for companies to provide the excruciating minutia of a severance deal. “Over the past year or so, we've seen a lot of executives ask for various types of equipment on their way out the door,” says Leder. When former Marsh & McLennan stepped down at the end of last year, for example, he took with him two iPads, an iPhone, and a Blackberry. (Presumably, he had grown accustomed to using the Blackberry as a paperweight on his desk.)
Polycom's Miller isn't leaving under the best circumstances. The earnings release states that Miller resigned last week, “after the audit committee of the board of directors found certain irregularities in Mr. Miller's expense submissions.” The reporting about the gadget giveaway could be a parting shot at Miller, intended to embarrass him, or it could be an attempt by Polycom to indicate that it was handling the resignation by the book and providing complete transparency about the details of Miller's exit.
As for sticking the news into an earnings release, rather than a separate press release? That's not uncommon, either, says Leder. “My best guess is that they were trying to get everyone to focus on the earnings,” she says. “And not on what the CEO they had just fired for expense report issues got on his way out the door.”
As part of the separation agreement, Miller has stated that he will not delete any data should the investigation into his expense report blunders widen. “Executive further agrees that he will not delete or destroy any information that he is obligated to preserve pursuant to any preservation request that he has received, or does receive, if any, from company counsel or court order brought to his attention,” the agreement states. Although, I'm sure Miller feels a whole lot more comfortable having the items in his possession, rather than the company's.
The release does not indicate that Miller took any Polycom video-conferencing equipment, although if his expense report padding is any indication, it's likely that he's already got plenty of it in his home office.