CEOs gone wild

‘Tis the season for wacky business revelations—or rather, wacky revelations about business people. The Financial Times‘ John Gapper highlights a number of incidents likely to raise a few eyebrows. For instance, David Rubenstein, co-founder of the private equity firm the Carlyle Group, bought a copy of the Magna Carta for $23.1 million. He plans to ...

597441_071220_mackey_05.jpg
597441_071220_mackey_05.jpg

'Tis the season for wacky business revelations—or rather, wacky revelations about business people. The Financial Times' John Gapper highlights a number of incidents likely to raise a few eyebrows. For instance, David Rubenstein, co-founder of the private equity firm the Carlyle Group, bought a copy of the Magna Carta for $23.1 million. He plans to display it at the National Archives in Washington, to "repay a debt I have to the country." Less charitably, the CEO of Sallie Mae, the student loan behemoth that is in trouble thanks to the subprime crisis, bailed on a conference call:

It started amiably but Al Lord, its chief executive, then got into a tussle with analysts about how much information he was divulging. The call ended with Mr Lord saying testily to his head of investor relations head: "Let's get the (expletive deleted) out of here" and Sallie Mae's shares dropping 21 per cent.

You might have thought that staying on a call long enough to answer questions and remaining polite would not be too much to ask of a chief executive trying to retain confidence in his company.

‘Tis the season for wacky business revelations—or rather, wacky revelations about business people. The Financial Times‘ John Gapper highlights a number of incidents likely to raise a few eyebrows. For instance, David Rubenstein, co-founder of the private equity firm the Carlyle Group, bought a copy of the Magna Carta for $23.1 million. He plans to display it at the National Archives in Washington, to “repay a debt I have to the country.” Less charitably, the CEO of Sallie Mae, the student loan behemoth that is in trouble thanks to the subprime crisis, bailed on a conference call:

It started amiably but Al Lord, its chief executive, then got into a tussle with analysts about how much information he was divulging. The call ended with Mr Lord saying testily to his head of investor relations head: “Let’s get the (expletive deleted) out of here” and Sallie Mae’s shares dropping 21 per cent.

You might have thought that staying on a call long enough to answer questions and remaining polite would not be too much to ask of a chief executive trying to retain confidence in his company.

This week, Fortune Magazine also launched its 101 Dumbest Moments in Business for 2007, including the seven dumbest moments featuring “Bosses behaving badly.” Some choice highlights:

Number 1:

HBO President Chris Albrecht allegedly punches and chokes his girlfriend while drunk at 3 A.M. in a Las Vegas parking lot.

Number 2:

I like Mackey’s haircut. I think he looks cute.” — Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, posting under the screen name Rahodeb, on a Yahoo Finance stock forum. The Federal Trade Commission reveals that Mackey authored this and numerous other posts over an eight-year period, hyping his company and himself while trashing the competitor he hoped to acquire, Wild Oats.

Number 6:

In July, as Bear Stearns executives futilely attempt to prop up two hedge funds that ultimately collapse amid the subprime meltdown, CEO James Cayne spends ten of 21 workdays out of the office, playing golf and competing in a bridge tournament in Tennessee. According to The Wall Street Journal, his fellow bridge enthusiasts claim that Cayne sometimes smokes marijuana at the end of tournament sessions.

Prerna Mankad is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

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