Eric Mayne's Blog

LaSorda's Words Timely

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Tom LaSorda's words ring eerily as he unveils his latest venture today.

Stage 2 Innovations is a consultancy with a $100 million nest egg for hatching "anything new and big."

The former Chrysler CEO and his partners will invest in and advise cash-strapped companies with bankable products or technologies. In return, Stage 2 takes an equity stake in the companies.

The fund seeks to capitalize on a void in the U.S. business climate, LaSorda tells journalists at a news conference just minutes from his former office. Banks are "not as fluid" with lending as they were before the recession.

And private equity firms -- cue the Twilight Zone theme music -- "don't give you enough money to do what you need to do."

LaSorda would know. He helmed Chrysler when Cerberus, a New York-based private equity, swooped in and shackled the auto maker.

The regime heralded an era when advanced technology and customer satisfaction took a back seat to the bare minimum. Chrysler insiders now say Cerberus slammed the brakes on innovation and cut corners wherever and whenever possible, hoping against hope consumers wouldn't notice.

LaSorda is not piling on here. He doesn't mention Cerberus or Chrysler. He is too much the gentleman.

But his off-hand remark is particularly poignant as his successor at Chrysler, Sergio Marchionne, hosts the media today at a nearby assemlby plant. The event celebrates the early repayment of controversial government loans that helped put Chrysler back in the driver's seat, while kicking Cerberus-style management to the curb.

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