In Age of WikiLeaks, Even Santa Can't Keep Secrets

Santa shook his head as he gazed at the PC's screen. "We never should have computerized," he sighed. "Sure, it made inventory and fulfillment and logistics much more effective. But now someone has leaked my list of who's been naughty and nice this year to WikiLeaks. We'll never hear the end of it."

"Aw, cheer up, chief," said the elf at his elbow, tapping away on an iPad. "I'm pretty sure every­body already knew what you thought of 'em. Besides, those leaks just trickle out, and we're almost done -- you just have to decide what to give the IT industry bigwigs. They were all over the naughty list this year."

"Let's see," said Santa, scrolling down. "There's Mark Hurd, who had to leave HP because of a sex scandal disguised as expense-account cheating. He then replaced Chuck Phillips, who had to leave Oracle because of a sex scandal advertised on a Times Square billboard."

"And they both worked for Larry Ellison, who practically invented being naughty, way back when," the elf said. "This year Larry finally got the America's Cup yachting trophy he always asked you for. What more does he need?"

"Maybe a nice dinner for two at some fancy San Francisco restaurant," Santa chuckled. "He could invite Leo Apotheker, the new head guy at HP, who's a real bon vivant. I understand Larry really wants to talk to Leo about his days as boss of SAP."

"And for Mark and Chuck, let's say a golf lesson with Tiger Woods. I'm sure they'll all have lots to talk about," said the elf, his fingers dancing across the face of the tablet. "OK, chief, what about Steve Jobs? He's already got the Beatles on iTunes, and Apple is worth more than Microsoft. Of course, the new iPhones had that little antenna problem, and Apple won't put Flash or Java on them, but no one seems to hold that against him."

"Nothing sticks to Steve," said Santa. "Give him a Teflon-coated frying pan. He's going head-to-head with the Google guys and their Android now, and that competition is about to get a lot hotter. And speaking of Larry, Sergei and Eric, can we give them anything to help remind them that some people do care about privacy?"

"You're still ticked that the North Pole Street View cars hoovered up all those e-mails from kids, eh?" the elf said. "How about tickets to that Facebook movie? The Googlers could go see it with Mark Zuckerberg, and he can tell them what it's really like to lose your privacy."

"Fair enough," said Santa. "Who's left? I hear Steve Ballmer is giving every Microsoft employee a new Windows phone, so they'll move at least 89,000 of them. With his stockholders saying it's time to break up Microsoft, let's give him a roll of duct tape to keep it together.

"Sam Palmisano needs a desk calendar. If he can keep his job one more quarter, he'll be the longest-tenured Big Blue CEO in history whose name wasn't Watson. And throw in an Old Farmer's Almanac for Marc Benioff at Sales­force.com. He can study it to see if he's ever going to have a day without a cloud. That's it, I think."

"Done," said the elf with a final tap. "The sleigh should be loaded in 15 minutes, and you can take off in 30."

"That fast?" asked Santa, surprised.

"Inventory, fulfillment and logistics, chief. That's why we got all this IT, remember?"

"Ho-ho-ho!" laughed Santa. "At this rate, I may just beat WikiLeaks after all!"

Frank Hayes has been covering the intersection of business and IT for three decades. Contact him at cw@frankhayes.com.

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