A few years ago, The CW’s take on the Green Arrow sent my eyes rolling so hard they almost got stuck. That post is still over here, but to sum up the complain, an evil CEO used wizardry to change company stock into pixie dust. Or something like that. It made about that much sense.
The writers for Netflix’s Iron Fist somehow managed to get business even more wrong than The CW. Someone should be embarrassed.
I’m guessing most people watching Netflix’s latest superhero series have about as much knowledge of Iron Fist as I did going into it (a.k.a. none), so let me back up. Most superheroes are either ridiculously wealthy or desperately poor. It makes sense, what with superheroing interfering with the ol’ 9 to 5. So unless you’re born into money, you’re probably out of luck.
Danny Rand is very much in the ‘Haves’ of the superhero world. Like Oliver Queen, Rand’s parents formed a super successful company, slapped their last name on it, and passed it on to their superhero heir.
So Danny Rand is super rich, super good at martial arts, and–at least in the TV series–has super unruly hair that would probably cost a small fortune to straighten out. I’m not sure if that last one is Marvel canon, but it seems important to point out.
Unfortunately for the fist glowing marvel, Danny Rand–minor spoiler ahead–loses his spot running the company.
It’s not exactly clear that Danny wanted to run the company. Plus Danny totally deserves to lose his position: he is a business idiot. On his first day in his new job, he walks into a meeting where they’re discussing pricing of a new life-saving medicine. He cuts the meeting short by insisting they sell the medicine at the cost of making each pill.
“We’ll make our money another way,” he demands in a gravelly tenor.
Okay, that sounds nice. . .except it makes no sense. “At cost” isn’t the cost of the pill, it also includes the hundreds of millions in R&D. It would include the mountains of overhead during the 7+ years it takes to push the drug through the glacial moving FDA. Plus it’s a good idea to make at least some money on it to be able to invest in new drugs and save even more lives, but at the very least “at cost” means recuperating the investment.
I’m not saying Pfizers of the world have their pricing right, but the Iron Fist’s punching down of prices isn’t the solution, either.
There’s also that little, unaddressed point of making money another way. It’s not clear what Rand Enterprises does, but since the only product they’ve discussed so far is a drug, I’m going with pharmaceutical. If they aren’t making money of their drugs. . .what exactly is their plan?
Even if we limit this to just life saving drugs, let’s say you’re the R&D Manager and you have to choose between investing in a cure for HIV or an even better Viagra. You know your idiot CEO will give away the HIV cure, meaning your company will be out hundreds of millions of dollars, meaning less money for promotions, bonuses, etc., possibly even losing your job for the good deed.
If you choose the Viagra, the company will be more likely have the cash to help you pay for your son’s therapies.
Which would you choose?
Or look at it another way: doctors save lives. How many do you think would have gone into that field knowing they’d just make enough to pay off their student loans and eat, a.k.a. their services at cost?
So anyway, Danny Rand totally deserved to get kicked out of the company. That doesn’t change the fact that he COULDN’T be kicked out of the company.
It’s clearly established in the show that he owns 51% of the company. I believe it is stated that the Meachums own the other 49%. Yet those three are kicked out by The Board.
Let me take five seconds to Google “Board of Directors,” something the writers clearly didn’t do. From Investopedia, the very first result:
A board of directors (B of D) is a group of individuals that are elected as, or elected to act as, representatives of the stockholders to establish corporate management related policies and to make decisions on major company issues. (emphasis mine)
So the Board represents the stockholders. They serve as proxy. The stockholders of Rand Enterprises are Danny Rand and the Meachums. So the people representing the three sole shareholders just decided to kick the three sole shareholders out of the company.
Joy Meachum comes up with a complex plan to get back in. I offer her a super easy solution for free. Vote off the entire Board of Directors and bring in another one that reinstates you. Problem solved.
Or maybe just ignore the Board of Directors, since a privately owned company with three shareholders is extremely unlikely to have a Board. Those people claiming to be the Board are either the voices inside your head or some crazy people that put on suits one day and sneaked into the building.
With all the Iron Fist debates about whether a white person should be allowed to learn martial arts, you’d think more people would pick up on the real ridiculousness of the series. But it seems like understanding how the business world actually works is secondary to a good old-fashion righteous indignation.
It’s really too bad, because if we all understood business a bit better, we’d all be better off.