Enron – The Dumbest Guys in The Room


Optimism, and certain amount of exuberance have returned to the technology land, not necessarily a bad thing, given the five-year tech drought, which left many if not all despondent. It is perhaps an opportune moment for all of us to remind ourselves of the lessons of the recent past. The best and perhaps the least sanctimonious way to do so is taking a trip down to the nearest Cineplex and watching Enron: The Smartest Guys in The Room.

In a desperate bid to blog less, and live more, last evening I ended up watching the documentary on my way home. Never before I have been outraged, amused and disgusted for so little an amount of money. A smart, well directed and amazingly edited, the docudrama is taut with tension.

The film brings home the very complicated story of Enron scandal in a succinct easy to understand manner. (Mark Cuban is one of the backers of the film, and I wonder when he is going to green light a project on WorldCom, and other broadband scandals. I am available to help out!!)

The documentary is a living testimony of greed, naked ambition and hubris – all gone wrong. The amazing collapse of Enron is a rude reminder of what happens when we forget the basic principles of capitalism and deem money as the sole yardstick. We saw a lot of that in Silicon Valley, where we made accidental bumpkins into heroes. Enron, to me is what went wrong because instead of focusing on nuts-and-bolts (Chips and switches, so to speak in SV parlance) and instead started focusing on the ephemeral.

What I found disappointing is that the documentary doesn’t focus as much on the role of Enron Broadband in the ultimate collapse of the company, and how that ill-fated, ill-conceived pyramid scheme pushed the whole bandwidth market into an unending downward spiral. But, well that’s just me.

PS: I wonder when hReview, the micro-format for reviews like this will be implemented in WordPress and other popular CMS systems like TypePad.

The Boing Boing round-up of Enron The Movie



Points well taken. I think you are referring to the riff raff that flocked to the valley (the non-entrepreneurs) and then who left in uhauls in droves in 2001. A friend of mine who was there told me about this. He said that people were throwing pink slip parties after the crash. Give me a break. Well, I’m glad you said “accidental bumpkins” rather than “accidental millionaire” like this book’s title


Om Malik

chauka, interesting comments you make, but do you even know who i am talking about. the accidental bumpkins, if i start making the list, then well you know how long that is going to be. clearly if you are a bumpkin, then you are not aorund any longer. that alone disqualifies a lot of people you mentioned. if you were in the valley, and if you saw many of the people who showed up here, i am sorry, they were just that accidental bumpkins. entreprenuers, well they are still around, they are still doing their companies, and they are not doing it only for money. so thanks for your insight, your point well taken, but i was here, saw it first hand, and you will not believe what i saw.


Are Steve Jobs and Wozniak “accidental bumpkins” of the mid- to late 1970s even though a lot of ideas that they commercialized came from the R&D factory within Xerox PARC? Are Pam and Pierre Omidyar accidental bumpkins? After all eBay really doesn’t make nuts and bolts, eBay is just one giant intermediary. Wasn’t Enron an intermediary, too (e.g., energy trading)? What about Jerry Yang and David Filo? Accidental bumpkins turned heros that just popped up one day in the orchards of Silicon Valley? Brin and Page? (do Yahoo and Google sell nuts and bolts?). A few days ago you posted to this blog what you referred to as an open source business idea (and someone who commented asked you (paraphrasing) — if your ideas are so great, why don’t you implement them and get rich yourself?). No offense — I like your blog for the most part. You are an excellent journalist and the things you report on are usually very newsworthy IMHO. But be careful about calling people who take business risks (and then who sometimes strike wealth in the process) “accidental bumpkins”. There are ton of people with MBAs and advanced degrees, PhDs, etc. but there is no school that offers a degree in entrepreneurship. As a friend of mine who is a medical doctor once said: “being an entrepreneur requires balls, and schools don’t teach people how to have balls!” Russell Beattie is another example. He’s a great cheerleader and cackles on his blog (opinion, not journalism!) about the mobile phone industry, but he still takes a job at Yahoo as an employee. He’s not out there acting on his ideas. However, notice that one of the quietest blogs these days is Adam Rifkin’s. Now there’s a guy who is smart and has balls and is more than just a cheerleader. Anyway, this is besides the fact that Enron worked the complicated U.S. accounting system ad nauseum just like Michael Milkin worked the system years before.

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