CEOs: Big Signature, Big Narcissist, Big Trouble


Michael Dell (Dell) vs. Carly Fiorina (Hewlett-Packard): Fiorina's signature is bigger; HP underperformed Dell by getting a lower return on its investments, according to Fast Company.

Asked what CEO in the study had the biggest signature, Wang tells ABC News it was Timothy Koogle, former CEO of Yahoo. He was CEO from 1995 to 2001, and chairman from 1999 to 2003. Wang, allowing for the fact that Koogle helmed the company "during a relatively strange time"--the rise and fall of the Internet bubble--the professor says he very much fits the model: From '97 to 2001, says Wang, Yahoo paid no dividends, made "extremely high investments," and gave Koogle some of the highest compensation in Silicon Valley.

Therein lays an irony, say the professors: Big-scrawl CEOs, though their companies tend to underperform, get paid more than their little-signature peers. They offer no explanation for that seeming disconnection, other than the speculation that these alleged egotists may be extremely good at sweet-talking and/or intimidating their boards.

Though the authors declined to provide a ranking of CEOs based on their signature research, we couldn't resist asking about real estate mogul Donald Trump, who some might cite as the poster boy for narcissism.

Wang declined to run Trump's seismographic scribble through the narcissizer. "But just looking at it," he said, "I don't think it would score that high. It's liney. There's a lot of up-and-down." That characteristic would reduce its overall score. Referring to the signature's presumed numerical value (not to the Donald's ego), professor Wang said, "It's not huge, relative to others."

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