Sun Microsystems co-founder charged with insider trading

Andreas Bechtolsheim is paying out less than $1M to SEC amid allegations he illegally bought options

A Silicon Valley heavyweight has been charged with insider trading by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Andreas "Andy" Bechtolsheim, co-founder of Sun Microsystems and an early Google investor, is accused of using his knowledge of Cisco's 2019 acquisition of Acacia Communications to buy options in Acacia using the accounts of a close relative and associate.

Andy Bechtolsheim, who was at the time chair of Arista Networks, a datacenter networking firm he co-founded, was aware of the deal because he had been consulted on it by "another multinational technology company" that had also been considering acquiring Acacia, the SEC says.

According to the SEC's complaint, the manager at the unnamed company that was considering acquiring Acacia texted Bechtolsheim that he "needed to chat rather urgently regarding a possible transaction in the optics space."

The SEC alleges Bechtolsheim "immediately" acquired Acacia option contracts when learning of the pending purchase by Cisco, which earned him $415,726 in profit when markets opened and Acacia shares rose 35 percent on news of the purchase.

The complaint alleges that Bechtolsheim "knew or was reckless in not knowing" that the information he was given was non-public, and that he had a duty to keep that information confidential.

"We allege that Bechtolsheim, while serving as the chairman of a publicly traded company, abused the trust of a longtime business contact who had shared highly sensitive information about an imminent corporate acquisition," said SEC market abuse unit chief Joseph G Sansone.

Bechtolsheim has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $923,740 for earning slightly more than half that for his illegal trades, and has also agreed to be barred from serving as an officer or director of a public company for five years.

Forbes lists Bechtolsheim's net worth at somewhere north of $16 billion. The SEC fine is less than 0.006 percent of his holdings. ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like