I count no fewer than 38 top executives at 19 high-tech companies that have bit the dust over this stuff.
We're talking top executives at big-name companies like Apple, Altera, Broadcom, Brocade, Cirrus Logic, Comverse, KLA-Tencor, Maxim, Mc Afee, Rambus, Sanmina-SCI, Take Two, Trident, Verisign, and Vitesse. That's serious fallout considering that options backdating is legit as long as the company reports it and accounts for it accurately.
In researching this post, I came across a number of recent reports on Henry Nicholas III, the once high-flying CEO and cofounder of Broadcom. While the story was enthralling, I didn't understand what any of it had to do with a federal investigation into stock option backdating.
Anderson had already retired in 2004 so, except for giving up some money and his board seat, he got off relatively easy, compared to Heinen.
As for Jobs, a report from Apple's internal investigation indicated that, while he was indeed aware of the options backdating, "he did not financially benefit from these grants or appreciate the accounting implications." In addition to vindicating Jobs, that same report fingered Heinen and Anderson.
But how does that relate to hiring prostitutes and drugging customers without their knowledge?
Said another way, do the feds really need to dig that deep to find enough rope to hang executives with?
But the options scandal has never touched a more exciting company than Apple or a more thrilling executive than Jobs. In June 2006, a special committee of Apple outside directors, chaired by former Vice President Al Gore, hired its own attorneys to investigate options backdating at the company. It turns out there were literally thousands of examples of backdating at Apple—6,428 options grants on 42 dates over a period of several years.
After accounting for forfeitures, Apple was forced to recognize stock-based compensation expense of 5 million on a pretax basis that it hadn't done so previously.Or that an investigation by Disney into options backdating at Pixar also cleared Jobs of any wrongdoing, even though he helped negotiate the deal in which Pixar's star film director, John Lasseter, received backdated options.The bottom line: Claims that Jobs was unaware of the accounting implications of backdating are hardly believable, but there was no evidence to the contrary.In a settlement announced concurrent with the complaint, Anderson - who neither admitted nor denied the allegations - agreed to pay back .6 million and never to do bad stuff again.That seemed like a contradiction to me, but whatever.At the end of the day, Jobs dodged a bullet because of 1) his value to Apple's shareholders, 2) his value to the U. economy, and 3) just plain luck that neither Apple's board nor the SEC found a smoking gun to force them to do something they didn't want to do.