If you are going to be a big seo player, you have to come into compliance with the se's guidelines
You're not really "optimizing" the site to do well in the SE's if you do that. You're "optimizing" the site so it will rank exactly where it "should rank" according to the SE... and if that's all you're doing, I can't see you charging any real money!
A search engine guideline promoter does not an SEO make.
I think you missed the end of his quote.
IMO they were trying too hard for someone already in the lead. A company with their stature could have supported a much more intelligent text link advertising strategy, as well as a much better natural link development strategy. Instead of spending XXX a pop monthly times who knows how many for some irrelevant PR7's and 8's they could have developed killer tools, resources or something of the like.