This post is part of a feature in which we wonder whatever happened to some notorious financial figures. See the other 17.
As Wall Street implodes around us, the word "hubris" is getting tossed around quite a bit. Hubris -- also known as excessive, overweening pride -- has become the catchall explanation for most of the market's ills. Our financial system has gone up in flames, we're told, simply because so many CEOs and regulators thought they were too smart to fail, no matter how highly leveraged their subprime mortgage portfolios may have been.
Assuming this is true, let's call Joseph Nacchio a trendsetter. As the chief executive of Qwest Communications International (NYSE: Q), Nacchio was determined to construct the world's biggest, best, and most totally awesome fiber-optic network. (Mind you, this was back in the late '90s, when the telecom bubble was just a glimmer in the market's eye.) However, the plucky CEO was driven not by a personal commitment to excellence, but rather by spite.
Nacchio left his old job at AT&T (NYSE: T) because he wasn't granted a plum promotion to president, which he felt he so richly deserved. What better way to show up his former employer than to build a superior network and steal away market share?
Unfortunately, Nacchio's impure motivations were not the best recipe for success. To give you some idea as to how his plans for world telecom domination played out, check out this blog entry I wrote about Qwest and Joseph Nacchio as part of our series on the worst S&P 500 stocks of the past 25 years.