The latest caper looming over the technology sector makes us long for the days when HP spied on reporters and Oracle went slumming through Microsoft's garbage. Those were wholesome scandals centered on good, old fashioned corporate espionage.
Now we find Broadcom co-founder Henry Nicholas locked in a lawsuit with former aide Kenji Kato, as the parties fight over drugs, prostitution and Judo allegations. Kato, for example, claims that Nicholas - when not threatening to make disobedient workers "disappear" - would stay awake for four days in a row, fueled by heroin and cocaine that he then forced others to ingest. Nicholas, who has denied all such charges, has tried to counter Kato's claims by hiring detectives to watch his every move, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
The end result is a lawsuit the likes of which we've never seen before - a suit that makes us wish we'd befriended Nicholas and paid more attention to Broadcom.
WSJ reporter James Bandler managed to catch up with all the parties involved in this dispute. His story notes that Nicholas is currently being investigated in relation to one of the stock options probes now so familiar to Silicon Valley companies. (Broadcom has taken more than $2bn in charges for backdating options grants.) He's also involved in a divorce-based feud with his wife over more than $1bn in Broadcom stock. (Nicholas left Broadcom in 2003.)
All in all, it's been a rough few months for Nicholas.
Kato made things even worse by filing a lawsuit against Nicholas, which now seeks $3m for a variety of things, including compensation for work done as Nicholas' aide-cum-bodyguard and emotional distress.
You might think drugs and whores sound like a good time - not according to Kato.
A copy of the lawsuit obtained by The Register shows Kato accusing Nicholas of carrying a concealed weapon with him at all times, performing Judo chops while standing close to others, threatening people like an angry drill sergeant and vowing to "make people disappear" using contacts formed through work with the Defense Department. You know - typical officer banter.
And then there's the drugs and whores. We promised you drugs and whores.
According to Kato's lawsuit, Nicholas used to stroll into Kato's bedroom at 3 a.m. "holding a plate with a pile of cocaine or other drug, and demanding that he 'party' with him because 'he was bored and lonely.'" Nicholas also made Kato entertain him like a court jester and demanded that Kato take drugs, the lawsuit said.
Nicholas forced Kato to keep a large supply of drugs on hand at all times as well, to "look the other way" when Nicholas spiked clients' drinks with drugs and to bring prostitutes around for clients' entertainment, according to the lawsuit.
Kato worked for Nicholas for several years and forged a "parent-son bond" with his employer. But Kato is apparently really, really upset about the behavior now that he's had a chance to reflect on Broadcom's Dionysian period.
Nicholas has rebuffed all of these charges and then gone a couple of steps further. For one, he wants to make it clear that he's not really into drug dealers. The WSJ reports:
Mr. Nicholas said his sister was murdered by a drug-dealing boyfriend years ago. "I really don't like drug dealers," he said.
Nicholas has also, through his lawyers and detectives, taken the liberty of insinuating that Kato is now up to no good. We're told that Kato was spotted "lighting something up as he sat alone in his parked car" and that he's been "passing and receiving duffel bags with young men and meeting with men in hooded sweatshirts."
It must be tough to carry around duffel bags full of young men, but we understand that some drugs do give you super strength. [Seriously, is that meant to make us think Kato is into drugs or gay jocks? - Ed] As for the sweatshirts and smoking . . .
Well, friends, this looks like the type of lawsuit that will just keep on giving, although we're not sure you can top spiking customers' drinks with cocaine before forcing your bodyguard to witness an orgy. Here's us hoping. ®