A revealing portrait of one of the world’s finest, yet most opaque, companies—and the quiet genius who made it thrive
Ken Auletta set out to locate one of the world’s most prosperous businesses and explain its formula for success. He searched for an enterprise with a vivid chief executive and found that company in Schlumberger Limited, a multinational oilfield services firm with skyrocketing profits and a reputation as one of the best-managed global corporations. Auletta also found his fascinating CEO in Jean Riboud, a man who had eluded media attention even though he had guided Schlumberger for 2 decades. In this compelling portrait, Auletta brings the notoriously low-profile executive to life, detailing his unique style of management and the unusual corporate culture he nurtured.
A self-proclaimed socialist from France, Riboud fought in the resistance during World War II, was captured by the Nazis, and was held prisoner at the Buchenwald concentration camp. He joined Schlumberger as an assistant and quickly rose through the company’s ranks. Although he was admired for his fierce drive for perfection and eye for long-term planning and expansion, Riboud distanced himself from his corporate cohorts and instead socialized with a diverse group of artists, writers, and politicians. Brilliant and paradoxical, Riboud makes for a fascinating subject in Auletta’s comprehensive and illuminating book.
“Ken Auletta’s extraordinary portrait of Jean Riboud is business reporting on a higher level.” —Richard Reeves
“A highly readable, enjoyable book.” —Robert H. Waterman Jr., coauthor of In Search of Excellence
Praise for Ken Auletta
“A riveting chronicle of the lust for money, power and reputation . . . Invaluable.” —The New York Times on Greed and Glory on Wall Street
“Fascinating . . . Delivers the goods . . . A towering reportorial achievement.” —The Wall Street Journal on Greed and Glory on Wall Street
“As comfortable interrogating a network executive as he is interviewing a software genius or bottling a human tornado like Ted Turner, Auletta builds his . . . books the way a mason builds a wall—upon a firm foundation, one brick at a time and as level as the horizon.” —The Washington Post on Googled: The End of the World as We Know It
Ken Auletta (b.1942) has written for the New Yorker since 1977, where he has been the “Annals of Communications” columnist since 1992. He is the author of eleven books, five of which are national bestsellers. Early in his career, Auletta was the chief political correspondent for the New York Post, a columnist for the Village Voice and the New York Daily News, and a writer for New York magazine. For the New Yorker, he has probed corporate culture and the rise of the Internet, and profiled business leaders such as Bill Gates, Barry Diller, and Rupert Murdoch. Auletta won a National Magazine Award in 2001 for his New Yorker feature on Ted Turner, and he has been a judge for both the Pulitzer Prize and the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists. His books include The Underclass; Googled: The End of the World As We Know It; Greed and Glory on Wall Street: The Fall of the House of Lehman; The Highwaymen: Warriors of the Information Superhighway; and World War 3.0: Microsoft and Its Enemies. Auletta lives in Manhattan.