[the cult of the ceo]

Topic: Personal

In Jeffrey Toobin’s piece in this week’s New Yorker on the decline and fall of Martha Stewart, my old company got a shout-out:

Stewart said … that she liked to buy shares in the companies of C.E.O.s she admired, as a kind of tribute but also as a way to learn from them. Her stock portfolio, which was made public during the trial, revealed that she fell for other emblematic figures of the nineteen-nineties. She did well with Wal-Mart and Dell, but lost with investments in Amazon, Lucent, Doubleclick, and JDS Uniphase. (Emphasis added.)

I was once a Clicker back in the heyday, when they built us a roof terrace with a basketball court, a climbing wall that we weren’t allowed to use, and a fountain so loud that it could never be turned on. They used to feed us and get us drunk so often that I wondered if they were fattening us up for something, and of course they were. I got off the merry-go-round voluntarily ? that was when I headed off to Korea to teach English ? but took the generous layoff package they were offering. And I managed to make some money on my stock options, but my dad invested my sister’s bat mitzvah money in DoubleClick shares when the company had roughly the same value as General Electric. Which was foolish, but those were heady days and we all liked to believe it would last forever.

Anyway, in terms of CEO worship, DoubleClick was better than some other places. We had two Glorious Founders, Kevin O’Connor and Kevin Ryan, and an advantage of polytheism is that it blunts the power of any one god.