Monthly Archives: July 2016
There has been a recent spate of complaints that boards and CEOs are not planning for CEO succession. Why is anyone surprised? Imperial CEOs assume the company will go to Hell in a handbasket as soon as they leave, and if CEOs need their maws stuffed with gold just to deliver good results, why would they care what happens once they have landed with their golden parachute?
Just how essential are a CEO’s talents for a corporation? Like the divine right of kings, the indispensability of the CEO seems deeply rooted – but rarely investigated – in IR lore. CEOs are surrounded with awe and pomp while in office but, with a few rare exceptions, in reality they are ephemeral shooting stars who are almost instantly forgotten when they go. Carly Fiorina’s inglorious executive career, for example, had been buried in the public subconscious until she chose to resurrect herself as a US presidential candidate, only to see her reputation reburied even more deeply.
By contrast, we are likely to remember the Fords and the Bacardis and members of the House of Windsor: these bosses’ names evoke historically successful businesses. Dynastic succession does not always work, however. Many years ago I interviewed the bright and optimistic IRO of Seagram – just before perky young heir Edgar Bronfman, Jr took over and destroyed the company. Normally, family members care enough about their operation to keep upstarts on a rein, but young Bronfman was unconstrained. A good CEO might not make much difference to the upside, but a bad one can signpost the road to Hell.
In fact, one reason for lack of succession planning might be that CEOs are taking the Ottoman approach. The first thing a new Sultan would do is murder all the siblings who might threaten his position, and one cannot help but wonder whether CEOs paranoid enough to need golden parachutes and other protective paraphernalia to guarantee safe succession really want to identify potential rivals – other than to exclude them from the equation.
A CEO is indeed a figurehead for a company: the first person investors see. But if we examine the metaphor, the figurehead only appears to be leading the ship. In reality the engine room is below decks, while the vessel is actually steered from much farther back. But figureheads were often decked with gold, so there is indeed a resemblance to the modern CEO.
How necessary is all that gold, though? Ostentatious emoluments – the corporate jets, the golden parachutes, and the rest – are there like Queen Elizabeth II’s privy purse, crown and state coach: so the incumbent can live up to the expectations that employees and shareholders hold of the company.
The purpose of pretending to try outside recruitment is to boost the myth that there is a market for CEOs, so that the compensation committee the CEO appoints will be trapped in the whirring treadmill, always paying more than the average, and the few who are appointed from outside contribute admirably to the expanding universe of executive pay by doubling their remuneration.
Above all, however, it is clear that a CEO’s main tasks are to perform for the shareholders and public, and to boost morale in the company. It is not that high pay is necessary to incentivize these executives, for surely they would give their all for the company anyway, out of loyalty? No.
Preferably, then, the CEO succession should be from within the company so the candidates know its idiosyncrasies. For the pool of CEO candidates, therefore, the line of succession should clearly come from the IR department. IR people need some coaching in the simulation of leadership – acting, voice coaching, deportment and similar skills – but no one can match their knowledge of corporate workings. At last, a figurehead that thinks!
Then again, CEOs should epitomize, not exclude themselves from efficient market theory, which suggests that CEO contracts, like all others should go to the best qualified – and lowest – bidder, which in turn reinforces using the IR department as the recruitment pool – because everyone knows that IROs come cheaper than all others.
A proxy connects you to a remote computer and a VPN connects you to a remote computer so they must be, more or less, the same thing, right? Not exactly. Let’s look at when might you want to use each, and why proxies are a poor substitute for VPNs.
Practically every other week there’s a major news story about encryption, leaked data, snooping, or other digital privacy concerns. Many of these articles talk about the importance of beefing up the security of your Internet connection, like using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) when you’re on public coffee shop Wi-Fi, but they’re often light on the details. How exactly do the proxy servers and VPN connections we keep hearing about actually work? If you’re going to invest the time and energy in improving security you want to be sure you’re selecting the right tool for the right job.
Although they are fundamentally different, VPNs and proxies have a single thing in common: they both allow you to appear as if you are connecting to the internet from another location. How they accomplish this task and the degree to which they offer privacy, encryption, and other functions, however, varies wildly.
Proxies Hide Your IP Address
A proxy server is a server that acts as a middleman in the flow of your internet traffic, so that your internet activities appear to come from somewhere else. Let’s say for example you are physically located in New York City and you want to log into a website that is geographically restricted to only people located in the United Kingdom. You could connect to a proxy server located within the United Kingdom, then connect to that website. The traffic from your web browser would appear to originate from the remote computer and not your own.
Proxies are great for low-stakes tasks like watching region-restricted YouTube videos, bypassing simple content filters, or bypassing IP-based restrictions on services.
For example: Several people in our household play an online game where you get a daily in-game bonus for voting for the game server on a server ranking website. However, the ranking website has a one-vote-per-IP policy regardless of whether different player names are used. Thanks to proxy servers each person can log their vote and get the in-game bonus because each person’s web browser appears to be coming from a different IP address.
On the other side of things, proxy servers are not so great for high-stakes tasks. Proxy servers only hide your IP address and act as a dumb man-in-the-middle for your Internet traffic. They don’t encrypt your traffic between your computer and the proxy server, they don’t typically strip away identifying information from your transmissions beyond the simple IP swap, and there are no additional privacy or security considerations built in.
Finally, proxy server connections are configured on an application-by-application basis, not computer-wide. You don’t configure your entire computer to connect to the proxy–you configure your web browser, your BitTorrent client, or other proxy-compatible application. This is great if you just want a single application to connect to the proxy (like our aforementioned voting scheme) but not so great if you wish to redirect your entire internet connection.
The two most common proxy server protocols are HTTP and SOCKS.
The oldest type of proxy server, HTTP proxies are designed expressly for web-based traffic. You plug the proxy server into your web browser’s configuration file (or use a browser extension if your browser doesn’t natively support proxies) and all your web traffic is routed through the remote proxy.
If you’re using an HTTP proxy to connect to any sort of sensitive service, like your email or bank, it is critical you use a browser with SSL enabled, and connect to a web site that supports SSL encryption. As we noted above, proxies do not encrypt any traffic, so the only encryption you get when using them is the encryption you provide yourself.
Often times, schools and other institutions will have a proxy address which allows for users to access paid content from publishers while off campus. This means that no matter where you are – on campus or off – you can access content that your institution has the privileges to.
With ReadCube, you are able to connect the program directly to your proxy which will enable you to download that content directly into your ReadCube library.
There are two ways to connect your proxy to ReadCube:
The first is with EZProxy. If your institution has an EZProxy address, it’s likely that we already have your address on file. To check, head into the preferences of the app and into institutional affiliation. From there, you’ll see a drop down menu of the institutions we currently have on file:
Once you successfully log in, that’s it! You’re ready to go.
If we don’t have your EZProxy on file (or the one we do have is no longer active) please reach out to us at ReadCube Support.
If your institution does not use an EZProxy but rather a web based proxy (with a port number) you can still connect that proxy with ReadCube. To do this, head into preferences of the app, into institutional affiliation and make sure that all boxes are clear:
Once that’s done, launch the default browser of your operating system – for Windows this is Internet Explorer and for OS X this is Safari. You must configure your proxy from within these respective browsers even if you never personally use them as this is where ReadCube will look for proxy settings.
For more information on how to configure your proxy from within Internet Explorer, head here. And for Safari, here.
Once that’s done, launch ReadCube, authenticate with your credentials and you’re all set!