SINGAPORE (Feb 14): The former WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers, who died at the age of 78 this month, started life as a basketball coach. He often urged his employees to act in concert like a baseball team.

But, Ebbers’ memory will ring loud for a different reason. WorldCom, a telecom giant, was one of the spectacular casualties of the dotcom collapse of 2000. It was once the only company that could connect long-distance calls throughout the US. Its market capitalisation peaked at US$185 billion, or US$272 billion ($377 billion) in today’s terms. This is more than the valuation of any telco today.

Ebbers, who stood at six foot five and weighed 200 pounds, bullied his employees. But, he had a charming demeanour with investors. He captivated Wall Street with his vision of dominance of the booming telco landscape.

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