Former WorldCom President John Sidgmore Dies - InformationWeek

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Former WorldCom President John Sidgmore Dies

He helped reveal the accounting troubles that led to the biggest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- John Sidgmore, the WorldCom executive who helped reveal the accounting troubles that led to the biggest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history, died Thursday at 52.

He died of complications associated with acute pancreatitis, said B. Jay Cooper, a family spokesman.

Sidgmore was named president of WorldCom in April 2002 and disclosed the company's accounting errors just weeks later. He resigned from the company in December of that year but continued to work with WorldCom as a consultant.

Sidgmore had been vice chairman of WorldCom's board when the company was involved in an accounting shell game to make it appear more profitable, but he said in July 2002, shortly after the bankruptcy declaration, "I haven't been involved in the direct operations of the company in several years."

Earlier that month, he expressed optimism about the company, yet also apologized for "past transgressions" at WorldCom and pledged cooperation as the government investigated.

"We want the bad guys exposed," Sidgmore said at a packed news conference. "We want the bad guys punished. And we want to move on with our lives at WorldCom."

The Securities and Exchange Commission had filed civil fraud charges a week earlier against WorldCom after the company disclosed it had improperly accounted for nearly $4 billion in expenses, thus inflating its earnings. The stunning news sent the company's once high-flying stock plummeting below a dime.

WorldCom, which now does business as MCI, praised Sidgmore's leadership in a statement issued Thursday.

"He was an Internet visionary, leader and friend who had an uncanny ability of bringing joy into people's lives," the company said.

Longtime friend Peter Barris, who recruited Sidgmore to take the helm of UUNET Technologies in 1994, called him a savvy businessman whose networking skills were crucial in expanding the Internet's role in industry. Sidgmore was a partner in Barris' company.

"He engendered an incredible amount of loyalty in the people who worked for him," said Barris, manager general of venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates. "He was a consummate dealmaker, and building the Internet in the early stages required a lot of strategic partnerships."

Sidgmore began his career at General Electric, rising to vice president of GE's information services.

In the 1990s, he led a series of pioneering Internet companies. Under his charge, UUNET, grew from $6 million in revenue in 1995 to $4 billion in 1999. UUNET, now an MCI company, is the world's largest Internet access provider.

He earned his bachelor of science degree in economics from the State University of New York in 1973.

He is survived by his wife, Randi, and his son, Michael.

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