John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Frank Quattrone: Il Barbiere di Silicon Valley

barberofsiliconvalley.jpgThe fat lady of justice has finally sung for Frank Quattrone. A federal judge yesterday officially dismissed criminal charges against the defrocked Silicon Valley financier, clearing him of charges that he obstructed an investigation into Credit Suisse First Boston’s practice of steering shares of hot IPOs to favored investment-banking clients. “Today, the legal system has rendered its final verdict: I am innocent,” Quattrone said. “The opera is over.”

If Quattrone’s lengthy legal ordeal truly was an opera, then it makes Richard Wagner’s interminable Ring Cycle look short by comparison. Accused of ordering the destruction of documents while his firm was under subpoena, Quattrone was charged with witness tampering and obstruction of justice in April 2003. His first trial ended in a hung jury in October 2003. He was convicted in a retrial in May 2004 and sentenced to 18 months in prison. But that verdict was overturned last year. Quattrone managed to avoid a third trial by reaching a deferred-prosecution agreement with prosecutors. Now, having met its terms, his four-year battle with the federal justice system is officially over.

So what’s next for the investment legend? Back to business, most likely. Said Bill Burnham, a venture capitalist who once worked with Quattrone: “Investment bankers want him to start a private equity firm and private equity investors want him to start an investment bank because neither group wants to compete head-on with Frank. Who knows, maybe he will disappoint them all and do both.”

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald