Someone like Carl Icahn who has billions of dollars to spend on companies has turned himself into an activist who claims that he is fighting for the rights of shareholders, but he is the kind of person who fights with a loud mouth. The hardcore activism of the 80s is giving way to a new way of being an activist.
Cliff Robbins, CEO of Blue Harbour Group was once considered someone who slashed and burned his way to business deals in the financial world. He has made hefty sums of money by pushing his way into deals that were going to benefit him. He has taken his way to getting into activism, but he has decided to make a change in the way he is an activist for the people who hold shares for the companies that he is going to work with. He buys into companies that are willing to listen to him when he gets in the board room, and he uses his influence to make changes for the greater good.
Robbins has made changes in the California Teachers’ Retirement System alone that returned massive profits. Teachers in California are going to see more in their benefit checks, and Robbins is making the change without slashing anything out of the companies he helps.
“The number of transactions that Cliff and Blue Harbour have achieved relative to most others is fairly significant, and yet you don’t really see him out there in the headlines,” said Gregg Hymowitz, whose $12 billion Entrust Capital Management invests with Blue Harbour and other activists.
The people who have come across those like Robbins are seeing benefits as they listen to a wise old sage talk about how to make real money in a responsible way. There was a time when making money way the only goal, and there were not values or morals tied to that money. The morals and values have come back to the table where people are learning how to manage their companies with a sustainable method of practicing business.
Everyone who is trying to make a change in the business has a choice, and many more today are using the choices that Robbins has. Robbins is the kind of person who will change the activism in the business community for the better, but he must first infest others who believe they need to publicly call out people they disagree with. There is a friendly way to do this, and Robbins has found it.