1. Unhappily Ebbers AfterPop quiz for all you would-be corporate titans out there: What's the essential fuel of the U.S. economy, the thing without which commerce could not function? a) money (b) petroleum (c) off balance sheet debt? Give up? Sorry, the answer is (d) coffee. Yeah, we know. We need a remedial class in constructing multiple-choice quizzes. Even so, any CEO with an ounce of sense knows how crucial caffeine is to keeping downtrodden employees productive and happy. Well, not happy. Maybe docile is a better word. Anyway, the coffee thing seems to have eluded WorldCom ( WCOM) CEO Bernie Ebbers. See, Bernie has asked a lot of WorldCom employees in recent years. When he made a bad bet on the direction of his company's stock price, WorldCom bailed him out of a $150 million margin call in 2000. Just like that. And just this Thursday, Ebbers told analysts the company had lent him $339.7 million to pay off loans he owed. So how has Bernie expressed his gratitude to MCI WorldCom's 59,000 workers, who have watched their company's stock lose two-thirds of its value over the past year? Sadly, by being stingier than Ebeneezer Scrooge on Dec. 23.
|WorldCom Workers Beaned |
Java no longer Ebbers and flows
2. Off BaseWhat with the fallout from Enron and Andersen, it's easy to work up sympathy for Houstonians these days. For most of them, at least.
3. Ride With the TigerSpeaking of infelicitous corporate ventures into sports, we were quite impressed by Wednesday's news that chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices ( AMD) will be sponsoring the Ferrari Formula One Team.
|Chips and Dings |
4. Remember, a Smile Is Just a Frown Upside DownSo, here's the situation, Cisco ( CSCO) shareholders:
|Upside Down Under |
5. Sagan SagaWe know what you're thinking. You're thinking, the World Economic Forum, that grand agglomeration of big-picture financial panjandrums, just wrapped up its confabulations a mere subway ride away from Wall Street. You're thinking, where's the coverage of the inevitable Dumb Things? We were on the case, dear reader. But the project was more difficult than we expected. Our strategy was elegantly simple. Abiding by the FDT's philosophy of expending as little effort as possible, we focused our energies on the only WEF event to which we were invited: a party co-hosted by Jack Hidary, chairman of online tech-recruiting and job-training company Dice ( DICE). Worldwide muckety-mucks getting drunk and possibly making speeches: It looked promising. Once we made it past the wand-wielding security guard, though, we encountered a big problem. Everybody there was, um, smart.
|Funny Thing Happened at the Economic Forum |
They weren't so dumb