Businessweek Archives

Talk Show


Up Front

Talk Show

"Life will be better. We've lived all our lives under old guys." --Russian citizen Nadiya Gorshkov, to The New York Times, speaking of Vladimir PutinEdited by Robert McNattReturn to top

One Heads-Up Headhunter

The executive headhunter who has made many a corporate king is now something of a king himself. Gerard Roche, 68, chairman of Heidrick & Struggles International, has been named the headhunter of the century in a poll of 2,000 of his peers conducted by Executive Search Review.

Over Roche's 35-year career, he has lined up more than 200 CEOs and presidents for his clients, including the CEOs now at Aetna, AlliedSignal, AT&T, EDS, IBM, Eastman Kodak, and Westinghouse. He recently lured former Hewlett-Packard CEO Lew Platt to head California winery Kendall-Jackson.

Roche, who once considered becoming a priest, is the quintessential networker. He has befriended everyone from the late CBS patriarch William Paley, for whom he found four presidents, to GE Chairman Jack Welch, a golf partner. Roche's first top-level assignment in the late 1960s was to find a president for financier Saul Steinberg's Leasco group. More than 30 years later, he found a new president for Steinberg's Reliance Group, putting in corporate turnaround artist Robert Miller in November. He's hard-pressed, though, to name his favorite search. "It's like asking a parent to pick his favorite child," he says.By John Byrne; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Mousepad Not Included

A New line of fashionable Dells will be rolling out this spring. But don't expect keyboards and monitors. Susan Dell, wife of Dell Computer CEO Michael Dell, is preparing her ready-to-wear clothing line for April. She'll sell it in the recently opened Susan Dell store in an upscale mall in Austin, Tex. And that's just for starters. "We have plans for expansion," she says, "but nothing I want to talk about yet."

Pieces in the spring line--evening, day, and outer wear--will start at $500. They'll be "strong, sexy, and feminine," says Dell. "It's Lee Miller meets Martha Graham." That means feminine fabrics for more masculine cuts, and vice-versa. Colors: black and white, reds, cream, browns, soft blues, pinks.

Dell, 35, has a bachelor's degree in fashion merchandising and design from Arizona State and previously worked in real estate. She has been designing for friends for the 10 years she has been married. Now, with the help of a design team, she is ready to build her business. And as for playing on the success of that other Dell? Says Susan: "He's computers, I'm dresses. The two don't mix at all. This is my business." Hubby, however, is on the board.By Wendy Zellner; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Be Very, Very Nice to Larry

When Larry Augustin became an instant billionaire on Dec. 9, he was so stunned that he stared out the window of an office building in San Francisco at the Bay Bridge and kept repeating, "Look at the bridge, look at the bridge," to calm his nerves. Augustin, 37, is CEO of VA Linux Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif., an operating systems company that turned out the best initial public offering ever when its stock went up an incredible 698% to close at $239 that day. Augustin's stake was then worth about $2 billion.

But for six months he can't sell any of that stock. So for now, he's something of a poor little rich boy. Augustin lives in a 1,200-square-foot tract house in Mountain View and drives a nine-year-old Volvo. So what will he buy? "No jet fighters or yachts for me," Augustin pledges. But he says he will upgrade his digs. He likes the big houses he saw as a child in Ohio.

Of course, he could buy a sizable chunk of Ohio by midyear. Still, he says the "instant billionaire" label chafes. He labored in obscurity for years before his company's success. Now, he's focused on fulfilling investors' expectations. And what about that IPO? "That's yesterday's news," he scoffs. But what big news it was.By Steve Hamm; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top


The Good Business Issue
LIMITED-TIME OFFER SUBSCRIBE NOW
 
blog comments powered by Disqus