Despite His Record, They Keep Hiring Frank

The Edgartown Yacht Club is the epicenter of the rich, connected and preppie boater world on Martha’s Vineyard. I used to work with the people there and remember hearing about one of their members, a bigwig named Frank Biondi Jr., who often called in for tennis reservations. I also remember reading about him in Wired Magazine about an internet business venture he was starting. Biondi was once the CEO of Universal Studios and worked at Viacom for many years before that. I thought “I’d love to meet this guy, he sounds very interesting.”

Biondi’s career has been noteworthy for his dismissal from important CEO positions; for his generous behavior toward the former bosses who fired him; and for the extraordinary cash settlements he received on leaving his posts.

Biondi was in the news Wednesday because billionaire corporate raider Carl Icahn is aiming at Time Warner, and wants to remove chairman Richard Parsons. He thinks Frank would be a better choice for the top job.

The NY Times’ Geraldine Fabrikant reported that it’s been a rough six years for Biondi’s Waterview Advisors company. So far it has lost 61 percent of the money it collected from investors, sinking money in a string of failed telecom and cable ventures. The worst loss was just under $19 million in Tricom, a company that provides communications services in the DR. Another bummer was EKabel Hessan, a German cable operator into which they poured $30 million. Carl thinks Frank would be a swell choice for CEO, despite his lack of investment acumen as shown in the red balance sheet. It must be an ego boost when you can lose that much and still be in the running for a $6 million fee if the takeover succeeds.