December 11, 2003 by

John Sidgmore


Categories: Business

jsidgmore.jpgJohn W. Sidgmore, the former president of WorldCom who revealed the company’s shoddy accounting practices, died on Dec. 11 from complications of acute pancreatitis. He was 52.

Sidgmore graduated from State University of New York in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He was hired by General Electric, and over the next 10 years, worked his way up to manager and vice president of information services. During his four years in the unit, Sidgmore tripled its net income and achieved 20 percent in growth in revenue.

At the start of the Internet boom, Sidgmore led a series of technology companies, including UUNET Technologies, which grew from $6 million in revenue in 1995 to $4 billion in 1999. UUNET is now the world’s largest Internet access provider.

Sidgmore was the vice chairman of WorldCom’s board when the company began inflating its earnings in order to appear more profitable. A few weeks after he was named president and chief executive officer in April 2002, Sidgmore disclosed the company’s accounting errors.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil fraud charges against WorldCom for improperly accounting for nearly $4 billion in expenses. The charges caused the company’s stock to drop to less than $.10/share and forced WorldCom to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July 2002. Sidgmore left WorldCom five months later, and became the chairman of Electronic Commerce Industries in Virginia.

5 Responses to John Sidgmore

  1. Gloria Zailskas

    I worked with John at GEIS and later, as a marketing consultant when he went to Intelicom and UUNet. He was always so exciting to be around and to work with. Just a great guy.

  2. Steve Korn

    I too worked with and under John at GEIS, and knew people who followed him to UUNET. He brought energy and excitement to everything he touched. Know that GEIS tried to keep him with a rich package…but the entrepreneurial spirit pulled him to new opportunities.

  3. Clete Spehr

    Gloria and Steve: you may recognize my name, the Clete you may have known passed in ’97 after jumping ship from GEIS to follow John to UUNet. I’m Clete’s son. I’m pretty sure it was John himself who lured my dad to Seattle work at UUNet, and Clete Sr. always spoke highly of John. If anyone who reads this remembers my father Clete Spehr from GEIS or UUNet, please contact me, I’m interested in hearing from people who knew him professionaly.
    my email: Spehr at unt dot edu.

  4. Larry DeMonaco

    John was one of the more interesting leaders I ever worked with in my career. He was quick to “get it”, had wonderful interpersonal skills and was a good friend. On a personal side, John had a habit when he drove a car of sitting near the center of the front seat to steer it. There were times following John that I wasn’t sure anyone was driving! I lost touch with John soon after he left GE and I moved to Stamford, CT. I miss him.

  5. John Welch

    Sidg was the best senior manager I ever worked for. (I’m the John Welch from GEIS SDC…not Chairman Jack). He would answer a direct question with a direct answer. We could explain the business ands the technology to him…he understood.

    For almost ten years, we perked up every time there was a rumor that Chairman Jack had admitted his mistake and hired Sidg to run GEIS; later we hoped that John would buy us from GE.

    A half-dozen (or more) of us went from GEIS to SWIFT, including Andre Boico (SDC, Paris, and then head of marketing for financial services: now head of pricing at SWIFT). Also Felina Solomon, SDC NY and now a senior account manager at SWIFT.

    We were devastated when we learned that Sidg had died.

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