*Special* The Top 10 Bad Byes of 1998

The resumes we look forward to seeing in 1999.
Publish date:

This article is part of


1998 Awards series. For more information, please see our introduction to the series.

'Tis said, "Parting is such sweet sorrow." Don't believe it! Nineteen ninety-eight saw a fleet of "Leave your keycard on your desk, and don't let the door hit you on the way out" moves and other sundry departures. What follows is our selection of the 10 most ignominious exits. Then it's your turn. We've designed some departure awards, and you need to nominate the winners!

10. The Starlight Express Award:


Garth Drabinsky

, who was forced out of


in November (after having been suspended three months earlier). Drabinsky had founded the Canadian theater company, then spent it into financial ruin with mega-hits like

Fosse: A Celebration in Song and Dance.

Livent is now in bankruptcy, and the company's new owners have accused Drabinsky of fraud.

9. The Not Dead Yet Award:




Phil Condit

, who has come under heavy fire this year for the jet maker's sorry performance. After a directors' meeting in December, Condit felt the need to reassure his employees that he was still in charge. That's confidence. (Condit retains his job -- for the moment.)

8. The Disclosure, What Disclosure? Award:


Michael Schonberg

, who was put on leave by


in July as his handling of two mutual funds that he managed at Dreyfus came under government investigation. Finger pointing, tongue wagging and a class action lawsuit followed predictably soon after.

7. The Babe: Pig in the City Award:


Frank Biondi

, the chairman of

Universal Studios

, who got a severance package reported at $30 million -- or about $1 million for every month he worked at Universal -- after being unceremoniously dismissed in November. Oink!

6. The Back into Hibernation Award:

To perma-bear

Michael Metz

, who stepped down from his post as

CIBC Oppenheimer's

chief investment strategist in May. OpCo may have been kicking itself a few months later as years' worth of Metz's dire economic forecasts came true. But any regret was surely short-lived.

5. The Three for the Road Award:


Thom Weisel


Sandy Robertson


David Coulter

for taking their balls and going home. All three ducked out of the megalo-merger of





Weisel stuck it out through NationsBank's acquisition of his

Montgomery Securities

last year but bailed in September -- five months after Nations and BA got together. Coulter, president of BankAmerica, left a month after Weisel. And Robertson, founder of

Robertson Stephens

, which he sold to BA last year, stayed around long enough to guide his charge into the arms of


in June then left as well.

Hmm. Think Hugh McColl, the chairman and CEO of BA, might have a little problem sharing power?

4. The Frankenstein Award:


Newt Gingrich

, who resigned as Speaker of the House when the call of tenure at Kennesaw Mountain State College grew too irresistible. Fortunately for all of us, the bipartisan ugliness that Newtie helped build lives on.

3. The Son I Never Had Award:


Jamie Dimon

, who was ousted last month from


after the careful glue he had applied to the merger of



Travelers Group

began to dissolve. Behind Dimon's departure: Citigroup Co-Chairman

Sandy Weill

, who'd been Dimon's mentor for more than a decade.

*Extra* The Right Back at Ya Award:


Jessica Bibliowicz

, although her departure was two years ago. Weill's daughter, who left then-Travelers after Dimon allegedly denied her the promotion she coveted, got a measure of revenge with Dimon's departure. Many observers called her exit the hurt that would not heal between Dimon and Weill.

2. The Big Bucks, No Whammys Award:

To ex-



Walter Forbes

, who was forced out of Cendant in disgrace when his board discovered that his company had been cooking its books for years. After whining for months that he

just didn't know

about the fraud, Forbes fell on his sword in July -- and got a $47.5 million severance package for his pains.

1. The Power Tools Award:

To "Chainsaw"

Al Dunlap

, who lost his job in June at


as the company -- and reportedly Dunlap himself -- were in the process of unraveling. Dunlap made a career of laying off thousands of workers at Sunbeam and other companies, and his sacking was followed by jubilation in some of the towns that held factories that he'd shuttered. Dunlap's only sibling, his sister Denise, said it best: "He got exactly what he deserved."

Now It's Your Turn

Email us your

nominations for the following awards, and please include your full name!

1. Down with the Ship Award:

To the fund manager, corporate chieftain or financial guru who exhibited the most brazen or foolhardy approach to impending catastrophe.

2. By His Own Hand Award:

To the fund manager, corporate chieftain or financial guru who most aided in his own demise, through his words, actions or lack thereof.

3. Only Eight Lives Left Award:

To the fund manager, corporate chieftain or financial guru who most narrowly escaped a brush with disaster and kept his job -- at least for 1998.