March 24, 2003
A little light reading

The long-awaited book Power Failure, by Enron quasi-whistleblower Sherron Watkins, is due out tomorrow, and it has some juicy stuff in it:

Among the anecdotes:

CEO Jeff Skilling would ponder aloud whether Chairman Ken Lay understood Enron and how it made money. " 'Do you think Ken understands what we do at all?' " he'd ask. " 'Do you think he gets it?' " No one would answer, but everyone would smile encouragingly, so Skilling would answer the question himself. " 'Naaaaah,' he'd say. 'I don't think he gets it.' "

Despite his ruthless reputation, Skilling was, in some ways, a pushover. Badgered by employees for ever-higher compensation, he would meekly accede and tell them to work out the details with human resources.

"The caterwauling got so intense that Jeff Skilling routinely disappeared the week bonuses were distributed," writes Swartz, who is married to a Houston Chronicle assistant managing editor.

Sliding toward bankruptcy in October 2001, Enron sought to control the fallout from reports that Fastow had enriched himself through an off-the-books partnership, LJM. Public relations crafted an explanation for LJM, and executives including Lay, Fastow and then-Chief Accounting Officer Rick Causey reviewed it together.

In the document Fastow was cited as the fund's ultimate creator, causing him to explode, "It was Skilling!"

Seemingly a Master of the Universe dealmaker, Fastow was astonishingly childlike, playing with Slime in his office, driving remote-controlled toy cars up the legs of female employees and throwing tantrums when he didn't get his way. He also showed a lack of spine, routinely failing to make a case for his staffers at bonus time.

Skilling began "drinking heavily," had difficulty sleeping and came to detest the job after he was named chief executive officer in February 2001 and the stock price began an inexorable decline.

The Chron gave it a pretty good review as well. Personally, I'll probably wait until it's on the Remaindered pile before I plop down any of my spare change on it, but if I do come across a copy I'll let you know.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 24, 2003 to Enronarama | TrackBack