Testosterone Inc: Tales of CEOs Gone Wild

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9780471420057: Testosterone Inc: Tales of CEOs Gone Wild
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In Testosterone Inc.: Tales of CEOs Gone Wild, bestselling author and New York Post columnist Chris Byron chronicles the Gatsby–like saga of the rise and fall of the celebrity CEO. During the height of the 1990s bull market, they were America s new heroes: the heroes of business. They were our bold new leaders, cutting the fat, pushing for productivity, implementing visionary plans, and making strategic deals.

When the bull market turned to bust and the applause turned to cat–calls, the world was shocked at the truth. Drenched in money and public acclaim, our CEO–heroes mostly white, mostly male, mostly middle–aged turned out to be not much different than a group of twenty–something rock stars drunk on power and driven by sex, greed, and glamour.

Testosterone Inc. goes behind the boardroom doors to show the serial affairs and marriages of these acquisitive corporate titans.  At the center of this story is Jack Welch, the biggest of America s rock star CEOs and the former head of General Electric Co., surrounded by mini–me CEOs Ron Perelman of Revlon, Al Dunlap of Sunbeam, and Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco all gone wild in public displays of consumption and predatory appetites writ large.

Byron gets inside the bars where Welch liked to hang out and pick up women with his early business soul mate buddies. Byron hovers unseen at the elbow of Ron Perelman and his mistress aboard the Concorde for a week in Paris in his mistaken belief that his wife knows nothing about his secret affair. Byron peeks behind the curtains of a U.S. Army officers quarters to behold Al Dunlap horrifying his first wife, who claimed in her divorce action that Dunlap would point his knife at her and say, I often wondered what human flesh tasted like. Byron becomes a fly on the wall to chronicle the longing for respect and serial womanizing of Dennis Kozlowski.

Frequently hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, Testosterone Inc. follows the intertwined lives of these four corporate heroes, from childhood to their ultimate moments of glory and the crash–and–burn calamities that followed, as man s age–old hunger for power, greed, and temptation undid them all.  From suicide to murder, from dysfunctional childhoods to dysfunctional marriages in adulthood, from business chutzpah to financial suicide, here is the ultimate untold business story of our time: what went on at century s end, when testosterone got the best of businessmen everywhere, and CEOs went wild.

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Review:

unputdownable as gripping as any thriller gasp in disbelief ( Reading Chronicle, September 2004)

the raciest business book you ll read all year (Business Eye, August 2004)

For a pacy, racy, throwaway beach read, Testosterone Inc. scores highly. (CFO Europe, July 2004)

"...while there is a remarkable amount of business history, there is enough talk of divorces...to justify taking this to the beach. (The New York Times, July 11, 2004)

"...entertaining and eye–opening..." (Barron′s, June 7, 2004)

"...unearths tantalizing stories of bad behavior ." (USA TODAY, June 1, 2004)

Even before this business columnist′s new book was released, the publisher was fielding calls from Jack Welch′s lawyer––and that was just for the cover. The next 402 pages should really interest them. Byron, whose last book was the best–seller "Martha Inc.," is known for dishing. In his tales of "CEOs gone wild," even the mightiest corporate giants––Welch, Al Dunlap, Dennis Kozlowski and Ron Perelman––succumb to the most basic urges, falling victim to greed, gluttony––or a temptress in a tight dress. "Testosterone" reads like a juicy novel but, as its elaborate footnotes remind readers, the stories are true. (Or, at least, they′ve yet to be contested in court). (Newsweek, May 17, 2004)

This is surely a first – a glandular history of how big shot CEOs ran their companies variously into ridicule and bankruptcy and themselves into criminal prosecution and infamy.
Christopher Byron, author of the scathing story of convicted felon Martha Stewart, Martha Inc., has trumped that book with this account of the foibles of a gang of four once–esteemed, now ridiculed CEOs. In the cast are "Chainsaw" Al Dunlap, who destroyed Sunbeam Inc.;, Dennis Kozlowski, who awaits retrial after a jury got hung on the question of his guilt in sucking $800 million in personal benefits out of Tyco; Ron Perelman, who used junk bonds to take over Revlon and Revlon to assault Hollywood and not a few blondes; and Jack Welch, who used his brains, personality, and utter lack of restraint to wrest a king′s fortune of personal benefits out of General Electric and to give a pretty big fortune to his ex–wife when discovered doing legovers with the editrix of the Harvard Business Review.
With superb scholarship and a novelist′s sense of character, Mr. Byron takes his reader into the antics of his cast. He reveals that Al Dunlap, a "beast" as he calls him, wouldn′t even buy maternity clothes for his wife or togs for his baby. An artiste both in accounting and issuing pink slips, Al fired everybody in sight, got his factories to turn out barbecues that he shipped out to retailers who didn′t want them and would not pay, later rented warehouses to hold all the unsold inventory, then showed the unsold things as sold and paid for. When his financial knitting was undone, Sunbeam unraveled like a cheap suit. Had the board that hired him done their homework, they would have discovered a sociopath who had done much the same thing in a former job at a paper company.
The information about Dunlap and most of what Mr. Byron reveals about Messrs. Welch, Perelman and Kozlowski is known and in the public record. But the motivation – how these guys let their pants do their thinking for them – is instructive for investors.
It is an old adage that when the head of a major industrial company or any outfit doing something intrinsically dull figures he′ll sell out and buy a movie studio, what is really going on is that the CEO wants to hump some stars. Think of how Edgar Bronfman dumped chemical maker DuPont and went to Hollywood and lost most of his family′s money in movies and Vivendi and you get the point.
Irresistible, wonderfully well written, superbly documented, Testosterone Inc. is a book that can drive any investor to shudders. A few spelling errors in French, in Mafia terminology like consigliore (sic) and the name of a swank New York hotel, the Sherry Netherlands (should be singular) are harmless. A better index would let the reader see how some institutions, such as the Wharton School of Finance, were hatcheries for Wall St. felons). But no matter. This book is a fabulous read. (Toronto Globe & Mail, May 17, 2004)

Imagine, if you will, a supermarket tabloid like, say, the Weekly World News but devoted exclusively to business celebs, with headlines like Scientists Say Larry Ellison Is a Space Alien! and Meg Whitman Is Caught in Secret Love Nest! The rag would naturally sport the cheesy tabs′ unique editorial tone, by turns breathless, sniggering, outraged, awed. Got that? Okay, so picture it 375 pages long, minus the space aliens and Meg Whitman, and you have the flavor of Christopher Byron′s new book, Testosterone Inc.: Tales of CEOs Gone Wild (John Wiley & Sons). Every now and then a book comes along that is so silly and mean–spirited that it leaves you slack–jawed. This, friends, is one.
It′s not that Byron hasn′t done his homework. In taking on four big kahunas Jack Welch, Ron Perelman, Dennis Kozlowski, and Al Dunlap the author writes that he pored over 15,000 documents, not neglecting divorce files and police reports. Oh, boy. But it turns out all that due diligence was a fig leaf for Byron′s true obsession: sleazy sex lives of the rich, here gleefully served up with a big dollop of self–righteousness. Rich and powerful men behave badly, he intones, because at "approximately the 144th month of life ... testosterone levels in males simply shoot off the chart." Okay, but if that happens in all males, doesn′t that make these four just human? Byron′s whole premise suggests that these guys′ shenanigans were caused by sky–high testosterone, but who can say? Certainly not Byron: None of his victims would let him get close enough for an interview, let alone a blood test.
Footnotes abound, and Byron tucks many of his wilder suppositions such as one alleging that Jack Welch′s new wife, Suzy Wetlaufer, attempted to "improve and upgrade" the background of Jack′s ex–wife Jane into them. Wetlaufer declined to comment, and that seems to have been a smart call. After all, would you talk to the Weekly World News? Anne Fisher (Fortune Magazine, May 17, 2004)

Combine[s] an understanding of balance sheets with an ear for gossip and an eye for human failings. (Daily Telegraph, 8 May 2004)

New York journalist Christopher Byron lays bare the sexual antics of America s most celebrated business heroes. (Daily Telegraph, 5 May 2004)



unputdownable as gripping as any thriller gasp in disbelief ( Reading Chronicle, September 2004)

the raciest business book you ll read all year (Business Eye, August 2004)

For a pacy, racy, throwaway beach read, Testosterone Inc. scores highly. (CFO Europe, July 2004)

"...while there is a remarkable amount of business history, there is enough talk of divorces...to justify taking this to the beach. (The New York Times, July 11, 2004)

"...entertaining and eye–opening..." (Barron′s, June 7, 2004)

"...unearths tantalizing stories of bad behavior ." (USA TODAY, June 1, 2004)

"′Testosterone′ reads like a juicy novel but, as its elaborate footnotes remind readers, the stories are true." (Newsweek, May 17, 2004)

"Irresistible, wonderfully well written, superbly documented...This book is a fabulous read." (Toronto Globe & Mail, May 17, 2004)

Combine[s] an understanding of balance sheets with an ear for gossip and an eye for human failings. (Daily Telegraph, 8 May 2004)

New York journalist Christopher Byron lays bare the sexual antics of America s most celebrated business heroes. (Daily Telegraph, 5 May 2004)

From the Back Cover:

An ageless story of men, power, greed, and sex

Testosterone Inc.: Tales of CEOs Gone Wild tells the story of a group of corporate titans Jack Welch of GE, Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco, Ron Perelman of Revlon, and Al Dunlap of Sunbeam during a time when all stock prices rose and all business leaders were heroes. With skill and wit, business writer and columnist Christopher Byron paints a vivid portrait of how these notable moguls became drunk on power and addicted to fame.

Praise for Christopher Byron’s New York Times Bestseller Martha Inc.
The Economist magazine Book of the Year and BusinessWeek Top Ten Business Book of the Year

"Christopher Byron’s account is fun, bitchy and, when it is due, also admiring, of the woman who is responsible for stretching chintz across America."
The Economist magazine

"Enough dish to feed Martha Stewart lovers and loathers alike in this scrupulously reported bio."
People magazine

"Jaw–dropping tales of excess and success."
New York Times

"Christopher Byron has redefined the Martha Moment."
USA Today

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