This piece is part of our
1998 Awards series, running this week. Please see our introduction.
'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 suggested some departure awards, and you need to nominate the winners!
10. The Starlight Express Award:
, 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:
, 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:
, 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:
, the chairman of
, 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:
, who stepped down from his post as
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:
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
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
, 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.
Hmmm. Think Hugh McColl, the chairman and CEO of BA, might have a little problem sharing power?
4. The Frankenstein Award:
, who resigned as Speaker of the House when the call of tenure at Kennesaw State University grew too irresistible. Fortunately for all of us, the bipartisan ugliness that Newtie helped build lives on.
3. The Son I Never Had Award:
, who was ousted last month from
after the careful glue he had applied to the merger of
began to dissolve. Behind Dimon's departure: Citigroup Co-Chairman
, who'd been Dimon's mentor for more than a decade.
*Extra* The Right Back at Ya Award:
, 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:
, 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.
As originally published, this story contained an error. Please see Corrections and Clarifications.