John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

CEOs Gone Wild: Henry Nicholas Edition


I am a media-relations nightmare. I never prep, and I generally say what I think–and sometimes I say things before I think. I don’t know how many times people in the company have heard me say something to a reporter and later told me, ‘Jesus Christ, that’s going to be in the paper!'”

Henry Nicholas, July 2004

According to Forbes, former Broadcom Corp. chief and founder Henry Nicholas ranks 677th on the list of the world’s wealthiest individuals. But according to a federal indictment unsealed today (full document below), he’d rank quite a bit higher on a list of the world’s most debauched. Scattered among charges related to improperly backdating stock options while he led the computer and cellphone chip-maker are some heavy drug violations. According to the indictment, it seems that while Nicholas was fraudulently backdating stock options that resulted in more than $2 billion of restated expenses, he was also conspiring to distribute controlled substances.

Those he didn’t use himself, that is. From the indictment:

In or around 2001, Nicholas distributed and used controlled substances during a flight on a private plane between Orange County and Las Vegas, causing marijuana smoke and fumes to enter the cockpit and requiring the pilot flying the plane to put on an oxygen mask.”

Nicholas also apparently had a habit of spiking the drinks of associates and customers with drugs. Generally ecstasy. Hell of a way to close a sales meeting, eh?

As noted here before, it’s hard to believe that an entrepreneur and philanthropist like Nicholas would conduct himself like a roadie on Zeppelin’s debauched 1973 tour. But then no one probably thought he was serious about building that subterranean sex lair, either. Anyway, here’s the drug indictment. Click on the box in the far right-hand corner to enlarge:

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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