Tuesday, June 19, 2007


When hiring new execs, many companies fall in love like cartoon characters – suddenly, completely, unabashedly. But no cute red hearts fly around, just green dollar signs.

In October 2005 Kinetic Concepts, Inc. brought in Mark Carbeau to head KCI USA. Soon there were some changes at the top and last week they fired him.

Mr. Carbeau held his job only 20 months, the corporate equivalent of a one-night stand. While it lasted, he snapped up a $65,000 sign-in bonus, $20,000 in relocation expenses, a $5000 tax gross-up, a free “executive physical,” tax planning services, a $343,750 salary and a bonus of $169,000, plus a chunk of options that look to be way way in the money right now. (Kinetic is chugging along nicely on sales of high-tech wound treatments used on soldiers and diabetics; they also produce special "bariatric" hospital beds and other medical gizmos to accommodate patients weighing up to 1000 pounds. Guess these are what you call "growth industries.")

His parting kiss comes in the form of a lump-sum severance check for $730,000 and a “bonus opportunity” of $100,000 - “among other things,” the 8-K adds helpfully, with no hint of what other kinds of things they are among. Having squinted at the severance provisions of Mr. Carbeau's contract, we’re not entirely sure how the ex-lovers got to these figures; the numbers may take into account accelerating vesting of some equity goodies.

Cartoon characters routinely survive bombs, crashes, and many a mallet to the head. But when their skulls get clonked they see stars. Execs in Proxyland, on the other hand, get the boot and feel no pain.