RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — What’s the worst job to have these days — chief executive officer or venture capitalist?

Well, one wag responded, at least there is a job to be had.

And when was the last time you saw a VC being hauled away in handcuffs or pleading guilty to more charges worth more jail time than the American Taliban?

VCs also don’t have Tom Petty writing about how bad they are.

Rock icon Petty’s latest album is just out — and “Joe” is all about a greedy CEO.

I wonder, however, if Petty had a guy like Max Wallace in mind? After all, the guy running what’s left of Cogent Neuroscience without pay, along with a handful of several other executives as they continue a frantic search for funding.

To condemn all CEOs is just as unfair as it is to blame all VCs for the sticky wicket entrepreneurs, remaining dot coms, life science and telecom/networking companies are in.

Face it, fault is plentiful and should be passed around on all sides. And success stories do continue to emerge — even if, unfortunately, there seem to be fewer to report.

What’s needed is less second-guessing and more emphasis on figuring ways to revive the so-called new economy. But don’t look to politicians for an answer. They point fingers and second guess better than the best Monday morning quarterback on ESPN.

Fickle fingers of fate

The politicos also seem to forget that when one points a finger of blame there are three fingers pointed back the other way.

North Carolina’s General Assembly did talk some steps with its funding for a biotech manufacturing training center at NC State, extension of some tax credits for job creation, and other incentives for industry. But people on all sides were howling about “pork” as if they were at a pig pickin’.

The Golden LEAF Foundation has stepped into the fray with an aggressive program aimed at jumpstarting biotech. Let’s hope the people running the new venture fund and handling other money are wise in spreading the wealth and producing jobs the state so obviously needs.

As for Washington, DC — it’s gridlock until after November elections.

No one can listen to the Rush Limbaugh radio show without hearing Erskine Bowles lambasting Elizabeth Dole for daring to have a fund-raiser hosted by Ken Ley, late of Enron. Dole’s counterattacks have Bowles defending his own record as a private businessman.

Good grief.

CEOs on the run

While VCs have to endure vulture capitalist remarks, there also seem to be fewer jokes making the rounds about them than about CEOs.

Among the “best of breed” is the CEO “story” circulating on the Internet about the CEOs caught fleeing to Mexico. Bea Quirk, LTW’s contributing writer from Charlotte, sent me the story. Here are some excerpts:


Band of Roving Chief Executives Spotted Miles from Mexican Border”

“San Antonio, Texas (Rooters) Unwilling to wait for their eventual indictments, the 10,000 remaining CEOs of public U.S. companies made a break for it yesterday, heading for the Mexican border, plundering towns and villages along the way, and writing the entire rampage off as a marketing expense.

” ‘They came into my home, made me pay for my own TV, then double-booked the revenues — Right in front of my daughters.’

” — This morning, the outlaws bought the city of Waco, transferred its underperforming areas to a private partnership, and sent a bill to California for $4.5 billion.

“Law enforcement officials and disgruntled shareholders riding posse were noticeably frustrated.”

“The pursuers said they have had some success, however, by preying on a common executive weakness. ‘Last night we caught about 24 of them by disguising one of our female officers as a CNBC anchor — It was like
moths to a flame.’

“Also, teams of agents have been using high-powered listening devices to scan the plains for telltale sounds of the CEOnistas. ‘Most of the time we just hear leaves rustling or cattle flicking their tails, but occasionally we’ll pick up someone saying, ‘I was totally out of the loop on that.'”

The best humor does indeed mimic real life, doesn’t it?

Have a nice weekend.

Rick Smith is managing editor of Local Tech Wire