Welcome to our second annual report on the Worst Wireline CEOs of all time. As the second installment in FierceTelecom's annual series, we listened to our readers' comments from last year's list and took them into account.
Like other industry segments, including wireless and IT, the wireline industry has had its share of failed leaders.
Some of the upper level management who made our list were driven by personal greed to rob their companies' fortunes. Others just lacked the foresight for growth and success. As you'll see, some of these CEOs and chairmen came to power following the divestiture of the Bell System in 1984.
Two of our candidates this year—Bob Allen and Charlie Brown—were veterans of the old AT&T (NYSE: T) monopoly until the company was broken into pieces in 1984.
Brown, as AT&T's CEO, tried to settle the antitrust case that was filed against the behemoth in 1974 by divesting the local telephone division and retaining its Western Electric manufacturing arm. Allen, Brown's successor, had a vision that computers and communications would be profitable eventually, so the company purchased NCR--which proved to be a $7 billion mistake.
Others, like Jeffrey Skilling from Enron, weren't from telecom, but from the energy industry. Like many utility companies in the late 1980s and 1990s that had begun deploying fiber for their own internal communications, Enron jumped on the bandwagon hoping to make new fortunes on broadband and telecom services via its Enron Broadband Services (EBS) division.
Also making the list this year are three members of Lucent and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU): Richard McGinn and the dynamic duo of Pat Russo & Serge Tchuruk. And, of course, who can forget Dennis Kozlowski, whose extravagant purchases, including a $6,000 shower curtain and $15,000 "dog umbrella stands" brought the idea of corporate greed to new levels.
Without further ado, here are this year's picks for the worst telecom CEOs of all time. Once again, as you read this, feel free to give us suggestions for next year's list.