Ed Whitacre, who has led General Motors to a vastly new era or optimism and profit, shocked the business world today when he announced that he’s stepping down in a few weeks. His replacement will be a relatively anonymous director named Dan Akerson, currently at the strange and omnipotent Carlyle Group. As everyone scrambles for details about who exactly Mr. Akerson is, a 1994 profile of the man that the Observer dug up may be of help.
“Sidelined by a painful gall bladder ailment in Germany several years ago, Daniel Akerson decided to take things into his own hands,” the Forbes piece begins. “He pulled the tubes out of his arm, checked himself out of the hospital and then got on a plane for the States. ‘The German doctors were not moving fast enough,’ the U.S. Naval Academy graduate complains.”
The article says, metaphorically, that pulling out tubes is something Mr. Akerson does often. “I want turmoil; I want excitement,” the executive declares in the profile, written after he had left MCI to replace Donald Rumsfeld at the helm of General Instrument, which supplied those petite cable boxes that sat atop TVs once upon a time.
According to the article, he envisioned “a box in every home,” which sounds like something Alfred Sloan (“A car for every purse and purpose!”), the iconic General Motors head, might have said. Maybe Mr. Akerson will fit in well.