Adobe CEO Narayen Joins Dell Board, Sparking Concerns in Apple Community

Apple and its customers might have reason to be at least mildly concerned about Shantanu Narayen, president and CEO of Adobe, joining the board of directors at Dell.

Said eponymous CEO Michael Dell in a press release announcing the appointment:

“As CEO of one of the world’s largest and most diversified software companies, Shantanu will provide us with valuable insight as we develop and deliver IT solutions to customers. In addition, he brings strong operational expertise and experience, leading a company known for its innovative culture and growth.”

Adobe’s software, including its ubiquitous Flash, is developed to run across multiple operating systems, including Microsoft Windows, Apple’s OS X, and Linux. Although not strictly a conflict of interest, Narayen’s joining the Dell board raises understandable questions in the Apple camp about Adobe’s commitment to the Mac platform.

It seems an odd move for Narayen to make. I can understand why Michael Dell would welcome him to his company’s board of directors, but I’m not sure what Narayen gets from the arrangement beyond his board stipend. I’d like to hear him explain his reasoning.

Narayen is taking a board seat vacated by Sallie L. Krawcheck, formerly a Citigroup Inc. CFO, who apparently has less free time since becoming president of Bank of America’s global wealth and investment management division.

At Dell’s annual stockholders meeting in July, Krawcheck remained seated in the front row of the audience, refusing to face shareholders, while explaining why board members didn’t accept reduced compensation during the downturn. Krawcheck reportedly received $517,679 in compensation from Dell during the 2009 fiscal year, the second-highest amount accorded to a board director.

Maybe Narayen is joining for the board compensation, after all.

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