Corporate Eye

The New GM: A Tale Of Two Websites

I recently wrote about the demise of General Motors. Now that the bankruptcy has advanced I decided to take another look. There are some surprises.

First, the main site is impressive in its attempts to communicate a new image. Look at the Mission Page:

Wow, what a bankruptcy can do to corporate websites.

Note the use of Web 2.0, Facebook, Twitter — nice. Also lots of information on progress, commentaries and news. It is interactive; you are able to join in discussions. Nicely designed and an obvious intent to rebuild the company’s reputation with potential customers.

Next I wanted to see the Corporate Governance section. It took me a while but I finally found it.

It is nestled in the Corporate Responsibility Report where there is a rich menu of videos.

Sure, the company is going through a major organizational change, but Corporate Governance should be more prominent and more comprehensive . On Corporate Governance – Leadership are the following links–

If you click on any of these you get– “We’re Sorry. The page you requested is not available.”  Seems someone overlooked this section, and not reassuring about GM’s commitment to Corporate Governance.

Now for the second website. On the Investor page is this statement–

For more information regarding securities issued by Motors Liquidation Company (formerly named “General Motors Corporation”), click here to leave the GM website and be redirected to the Motors Liquidation Company website.

OK, I clicked here and it took me to the second site–

Looks like something from the 1990’s–no Web 2.0 here. Then there is this statement on this page–

Welcome to the Motors Liquidation Company Information web site.

IMPORTANT NOTICE

Management continues to remind investors of its strong belief that there will be no value for the common stockholders in the bankruptcy liquidation process, even under the most optimistic of scenarios. Stockholders of a company in chapter 11 generally receive value only if all claims of the company’s secured and unsecured creditors are fully satisfied. In this case, management strongly believes all such claims will not be fully satisfied, leading to its conclusion that the common stock will have no value.

I’m not a bankruptcy attorney, but I think there would not be a problem with saying something along the lines of “We appreciate your investment in GM and we tried everything before going into bankruptcy. We deeply regret any losses you have incurred.” Perhaps even a chronology of all efforts to save the company. Instead investors get this terse cold statement.

Another suggestion for GM would be to kill the page whose headline reads–

Why bother? A company going through the massive change that GM is experiencing is likely to have overlooked some things. But GM dropping the ball on Corporate Governance and lack of any compassion for former investors is telling. GM’s website is a critical communications medium. They did a good job on using it to retain existing customers and getting new customers but the poor sister site is regrettable.

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Ed Konczal has an MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business (with distinction). He has spent the last 10 years as an executive consultant focusing on human resources, leadership, market research, and business planning. Ed has over 10 years of top-level experience from AT&T in the areas of new ventures and business planning. He is co-author of the book "Simple Stories for Leadership Insight," published by University Press of America.
 
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