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It may have taken a crisis to prompt it, but General Electric has finally lumbered into the blogosphere. Following the lead of companies such as Google and Boeing, the industrial and financial behemoth has begun adding posts to “GE Reports,” the company’s new official blog. Posts so far have ranged from defenses of the company’s dividend (a rumor that it would be cut spooked the markets last week, sending shares down below $15, where they closed again today) to a video of CEO Jeff Immelt keynoting yet another conference. It’s even announcing news through the blog, with a post yesterday about GE Capital’s $2 billion reorganization.
GE’s blog is unlikely to spark the community that surrounds a corporate blog like Southwest Airlines’, where hundreds of LUV fans have logged on to comment on posts about scantily-clad passengers and CEO Gary Kelly’s Halloween costume. Unlike Southwest’s blog, which has the personality and liveliness that’s fitting to the company’s culture and to blogosphere style, GE’s feels much more like it’s written by the company’s PR team. Which, of course, it is.
Still, you’ve got to give at least a little bit of credit to a company for opening up comments on the site at a time when the stock has sunk by some 60% this year, not to mention selling equity at pricey rates to Warren Buffett in a move to shore up its liquidity. While there are some positive remarks, not to mention technical complaints (one 77-year-old investor called the blog “hard to read, the blue and white background is terrible”), other comments on the GE-sponsored site are hardly kind. “When are the executives refunding their 2008 pay checks?” wrote reader David Silvestri. “For crying out loud, bring GE back to life”! posted Jesse Hovel. And, wrote someone named Rick Hobbs, “it is long past the time for a substantive leadership shake-up, starting with Immelt.”
A few even had some advice to offer. Someone writing in as “Shelby Davis” (who knew the famed investor was reading blogs?) had this suggestion: “A great idea to have this site. I think you should merge with and take over Citicorp.” Oy.
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