Lonely at the top? How can America’s super-CEOs be lonely with so many kibitzing critics writing kick-and-tell books about them? Here’s a sample of recent honcho bashers.
Everyone Else Must Fail: The Unvarnished Truth About Oracle and Larry Ellison by Karen Southwick (Crown Business). The title comes from a favorite Ellison quote attributed to Genghis Khan: “It is not sufficient that I succeed; everyone else must fail.” What a fitting title for a book that pulls few punches in detailing Ellison’s two-sided nature, with brilliance and ruthlessness mixed in equal parts. Not surprisingly, the book contains far more quotes (many unattributed) from discarded colleagues and angry rivals than it does from the boss, a man who named his company “Oracle” because he views himself as a prophet with a dazzling vision. Share it or hit the bricks.
Fools Rush In: Steve Case, Jerry Levin, and the Unmaking of AOL Time Warner by Nina Munk (Harper Collins Business). Can it really be four years — and $200 billion in lost shareholder value — since the earthshaking announcement that Internet upstart AOL had nabbed the Time Warner empire in a $165 billion megamerger? Munk’s got chapter and verse on how those promised “synergies” failed to synergize, starting with the fact that most TW execs didn’t even know about the deal until it went public. Along the way she provides insightful portraits of AOL’s Case, the “automaton” who lived for his company, and TW’s Levin, a self-proclaimed “imperial CEO.” Now both are gone, along with wunderkind Bob Pittman and mighty-mouthed Ted Turner. How the mighty are fallen.