Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

He did some good things. He was brave enough to recommend that high school athletes (ie football players) in Texas could not play unless they met some minimal standards of participation in academics.

OTOH, his business career is not atypical. The deal about starting EDS with $1,000 may or may not be true. He was a successful salesperson for IBM. He sold to the insurance companies in Dallas, particularly Southwestern Life, which he talked into buying a huge 70xx (2nd generation) mainframe computer. Supposedly, IBM then had a maximum commission that a salesperson could earn in a year, so he was looking at a large part of a year with no additional income. Coincidentally, Southwestern Life, having acquired an IBM computer very much larger than it could use productively, had around 2 shifts per day that it could easily be persuaded to lease to Perot's $1,000 new company, EDS. How did Perot get customers? He had an associate who was very close to VP-then-president LBJ, and there was this thing called Medicare that LBJ was starting up, and Perot's new little $1,000 company got the contract to process Medicare claims! So, the man who ran against government had been made a huge success by government money.

The government really was a big friend to Perot. The government of Texas built a highway north out of Ft Worth. Perot built an airport out there, but not near the highway, because that land was too expensive. Then he persuaded the great State of Texas to move the highway to serve his airport. The Treasury department started printing money nearby, flying it to Federal Reserve banks through his airport. And Perot systems, the company he started after he exited EDS, early on obtained a very large contract to automate the US Post Office, with IBM System/38 minicomputers everywhere.

As an employer, he did some things that are still a little controversial. New tech employees signed contracts, and if they quit too soon thereafter (one or two years, IIRC), they owed EDS $10,000 for training (this was money 40 years ago). EDS also used mandatory overtime, (often six and sometimes 7-day weeks during crunch time), with armed guards at the door monitoring bathroom breaks.

A couple of things he said during the 1992 campaign were also a bit fishy. David Frost quoted Peter Lesser directly to Perot, “Ross Perot is a good person, and he’d make a great king. But I think he’d be a bad president.” Perot said he had never heard of Peter Lesser, whom he had met and had discussions with, and who had run for both district attorney and mayor of Dallas in the preceding few years. As a CEO who does not know who ran for mayor in the city in which his business is headquartered, he must have been pre-channeling Trump one way or the other, as he likely was with his bogus claim during the campaign about a Black Panther assassination plot against himself broken up by his dog.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: