John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Seriously, 'Welcome to My Underground Lair' Just Sounded So Much Better Than 'Welcome to My Basement Apartment!'

When you have $2 billion, you’re a walking target for frivolous lawsuits. Any record of anything you say–on tape or on paper–has the potential of ending up as evidence in a courtroom.”

Broadcom CEO Henry T. Nicholas III, July 2004

price3.jpgMultiple choice question: Catapulted into the rarefied heights of extreme tech wealth by Broadcom’s 1998 IPO, the company’s wildly energetic, and overbearing, CEO Henry T. Nicholas III purchased:

  1. a private jet
  2. a Lamborghini Diablo roadster
  3. a Laguna Hills, Calif., estate
  4. an underground sex lair beneath that estate

According to Nicholas’s former personal assistant and bodyguard, Kenji Kato, the answer to that question is “all of the above.”

Federal authorities probing Nicholas’s role in the manipulation of options grants at Broadcom Corp. are reviewing a civil suit brought against him by Kato, who claims his former boss paid him to procure the hookers and narcotics with which he stocked his subterranean brothel. According to a draft of Kato’s complaint seen by the Los Angeles Times, Nicholas’s lair “was infamous for its excessive extravagance, its sex rooms and its million-dollar sound equipment. … [Nicholas] provided his guests with transportation and cocaine, Ecstasy, methamphetamines, marijuana, mushrooms, and nitrous oxide. … I would see him put powdered ecstasy pills into the drinks of his customers. Other times, when we were at trade shows in Las Vegas, it was normal for Nick to request and send prostitutes to his customers to entertain them.”

Hard to believe that an entrepreneur and philanthropist like Nicholas would conduct himself like a roadie on Zeppelin’s debauched 1973 tour. But then who would have believed former Tyco International chairman Dennis Kozlowski would have requested an anatomically correct ice sculpture of Michelangelo’s David urinating Stolichnaya vodka at his wife’s birthday party?

Anyway, Nicholas vehemently denies the allegations, saying they’re part of an opportunistic extortion plan concocted by a troubled former employee. Certainly, it’s hard to believe that Nicholas’s last years at Broadcom were one endless bacchanal. “Nick was on point until the day he had to leave,” said Edward Frank, Broadcom’s vice president of research and development. It’s “hard to imagine that someone who executed as well as Nick had a substance-abuse problem.”

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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle