Best Analysis of business excess
"It is not that humans have become any more greedy than in generations past. It is that the avenues to express greed had grown so enormously."
- Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, testifying before a U.S. Senate committee, July 16, 2002.
Worst Example of business excess
"Big ice sculpture of David, lots of shellfish and caviar at his feet. A waiter is pouring Stoli vodka into his back so it comes out his penis into a crystal glass."
- From an email describing preparations for the 40th-birthday party of the wife of Tyco's Dennis Kozlowski, which took place in Sardinia at a cost of $2.1 million, half of which was paid by the company.
Best investment advice
You probably got this email. Were you sober enough to heed it?
"If you had bought $1,000 worth of Nortel stock one year ago, it would now be worth $49. With Enron, you would have $16.50 of the original $1,000. With WorldCom, you would have less than $5 left. If you had bought $1,000 worth of Budweiser (the beer, not the stock) one year ago, drank all the beer, then turned in the cans for the 10-cent deposit, you would have $214. Based on the above, my current investment advice is to drink heavily and recycle."
Worst Media Prediction
In May, Fortune declared that Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Middelhoff "will almost certainly be in charge until 2013, when he reaches the firm's mandatory retirement age of 60. . . . Being debt-free, profitable, and led by a CEO who doesn't have to worry about job security is the Bertelsmann way." Two months later, Middelhoff was ousted in a boardroom coup.
Best Reminder of why you should always read the fine print.
"Business would be adversely affected if Martha Stewart's public image or reputation were to be tarnished."
- Warning to investors in the 1999 IPO prospectus for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
Democracy at Its Best?
105,405,100 = Votes cast in the 2000 U.S. presidential election
100,000,000 = Votes cast in 2002 for Fox Television's American Idol competition
A version of this article appeared in the December 2002 issue of Fast Company magazine.