On Tuesday of this week, Fiserv employees (there are 20,000 of them) were surprised to receive the following e-mail message from Mr. Kight:
- From: Fiserv Corporate Communications
Sent: Tuesday, December 08, 2009 2:34 PM
Subject: Message from Pete Kight: An Opportunity to Share in Success
My fellow associates:
Through the good fortune of working with associates such as you, I have had the opportunity to acquire a winery, Quivira Vineyards, in the Dry Creek Valley appellation of Sonoma, CA. As many of you know (because you've had to suffer through some of my impassioned discussions on the subject), my time in the vineyards and winery – as we meet the biological challenges, chemistry and artistic challenges in winemaking, and physical nature of the work – is a significant juxtaposition to the daily work I share with you in the world of technology. Because of Quivira's marvelous location in the inland coastal foothills, the all organic-biodynamic vineyards, the opportunity to work with a world-class winemaker, and the surprising success of the resulting wines so far… I feel very fortunate.
For quite a while I've been thinking about a way to share my gratitude with those who have worked beside me and helped me create this marvelous opportunity. After all, it is all that we have developed together in leading financial services technology over the years that made Quivira possible for me. There is always an open invitation to any associate who finds an opportunity to head north out of San Francisco to visit the winery, to have a personal tour, and to experience personal wine tasting. But recognizing I won't be able to thank too many people that way, and in keeping with our technological heritage, the opportunity to extend thanks to all of you recently presented itself when we updated and upgraded the quivirawine.com website. Effective today, any Fiserv associate who wants to purchase any wine from quivirawine.com can enter a special code at checkout, and 20 percent will automatically deduct from the price of the wine. The code is: [OMITTED]
Please note that this isn't a solicitation. The wine will all sell out and I'm not trying to boost sales. The 20 percent represents my margin, and is simply my way of saying "thank you" to everyone who helped me build this company over the past 25+ years. You should feel as if you have a bit of a stake in making Quivira possible, and this is the best way I can think of to share it with you.
Thanks for making it all possible.
I’m always delighted to see examples of corporate executives waving their private parts in public. Mr. Kight, sensing a free marketing opportunity, used the Fiserv corporate mailing list to broadcast an open solicitation to people who depend on him to make their mortgage payments. Fiserv explicitly prohibits workplace solicitation by employees, as described in the following policy statement:
- Workplace Solicitation
Fiserv business unit or corporate management may periodically allow selected non-profit organizations to solicit voluntary contributions from, or distribute information materials to, Fiserv associates in the workplace. Any actual or implied pressure to make such a contribution or accept such information materials constitutes harassment under the Code. Workplace solicitation or information distribution not approved by business unit or corporate management is prohibited because it may pose conflicts of interest, create discomfort among solicited associates, and cause distraction from normal business operations.
Mr. Kight is indeed fortunate, because can simply approve his own solicitation, enabling him to flaunt his wealth and engage in personal sales activities with impunity.
His arrogant declaration that it’s not a solicitation merely serves to illuminate the fact that it is. But I'm especially fond of his attempt to "spin" the ugly sales pitch as a gilded thank-you note. It comes off cheap and tasteless, much like I expect the wine to be.