Ex-WorldCom Chief Sidgmore Dies

Internet backbone expert and former WorldCom CEO John Sidgmore, 52, dies suddenly of kidney failure

December 12, 2003

2 Min Read
Ex-WorldCom Chief Sidgmore Dies

John W. Sidgmore, an Internet pioneer who for years was an Internet leader at MCI/WorldCom where he later took the helm, has died of kidney failure at the age of 52. He lived in Potomac, Md.

Sidgmore made efforts to rescue WorldCom after it was hit with accounting scandals under the leadership of Bernie Ebbers, but months after taking the helm he was forced to reveal to the world that his chief financial officer, Scott Sullivan, had overstated WorldCom's profits by $3.8 billion. Sidgmore, who towered above most people and sported a ginger beard, had been at the company since 1997 as vice-chairman (see Sidgmore Takes Control at WorldCom).

Though Sidgmore became well known as a WorldCom executive, many technology leaders will remember him most for his early involvement in the development of the Internet backbone at UUNet, which is still part of WorldCom. From 1994 until it went public a year later, he was CEO of UUNet, the world's largest Internet company at the time. UUNet was snapped up by the carrier MFS for $2 billion and then by WorldCom for $14 billion. Sidgmore kept his job during both takeovers, continuing to rise up the ranks. Compelled to ameliorate the scandalous actions of Ebbers, Sullivan, and others in numerous investigations, Sidgmore’s chief role at WorldCom evolved into helping lead the company through a massive bankruptcy reorganization and attempting to salvage its reputation (see WorldCom Files for Bankruptcy).

Sidgmore was never charged with any wrong-doing, and in a statement released yesterday, WorldCom executives said he had always had a profound and positive affect on its employees.

Sidgmore was eventually edged out at WorldCom. Michael Capellas, former CEO of Compaq replaced him (see WorldCom: See Ya, Sidgmore and WorldCom Finger-Pointing Begins ).

Reports in the press today say that friends and associates of Sidgmore believe WorldCom’s troubles took their toll on him.

”He should be remembered for building the backbone of the Internet, not the WorldCom scandal. He was squeaky clean,” says Steve Levy, managing director, wireline equipment equity research, at Lehman Brothers.

— Jo Maitland, Senior Editor, Boardwatch

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