LightSquared is a wireless venture that seeks to create “convenient connectivity for all.” But, as the careful listeners among us know full well, it stands to do much more. In short, it will make or break backer Harbinger Capital. Success will mean billions for manager Phil Falcone and his investors. Failure will mean Wilbur Falcone going back to where it all began, peddling ZJ’s on the 5:54 Metro North to Greenwich.
As one can expect when one is doing ground-breaking, visionary-esque work, LightSquared has encountered some opposition. The yachting community worries the interference will cause them to get lost at sea. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it “may degrade precision services that track hurricanes, guide farmers and help build flood defenses.” Mars is similarly pissed.
The most recent hostility came last week from various parties claiming that the White House pressured certain officials to change their testimony before Congress to favor LightSquared, in order to help the network’s plans to move forward. Now, any and all donations the company’s CEO and Falcone have made to Democratic organizations are being scrutinized. Earlier this morning, Phil told Fox Business that allegations of influence via money sicken him (“People think we’ve made contributions to grease the wheels, that is so wrong, it’s disgusting,”) and this afternoon, took the time to explain the impetus for one donation in particular. Apparently all roads lead back to a woman with many fans round these parts. The First Lady of the hedge fund industry. Her Excellence: Lisa Maria Falcone. Read more »
As we have learned from former SAC trader Noah Freeman’s extensive testimony in the government’s insider trading case du jour, expert network analyst Winifred Jiau had a tendency to act irrational, demanding and sometimes plain bitchy. Whether her behavior stemmed from a power trip associated with realizing she was the person anyone who was anyone in the insider trading space wanted to work or she was simply born that way is unclear but regardless, while it may have annoyed some clients, it didn’t stop anyone from buying what she was selling, i.e. inside information that was “precise to the decimal.” Freeman, for example, has go so far as to praise her tips as best in class while sharing that he fantasized about doing her bodily harm, such as when she would make what he felt to be absurd requests like two (2) iPhones, gift cards to clothing stores, the Cheesecake factory and a dozen Thanksgiving lobsters. Apparently, though, the stuff wasn’t for Jiau. She just needed it to land another member of her “club.” Read more »
Pay a visit to that mansion, however, and it quickly becomes clear that life chez Falcone is more like a sitcom than a Cinderella remake. On a snowy day in February, Lisa Maria, whose olive green cargo pants and cardigan are neatly color coordinated with a hefty heart-shaped emerald ring, is nuzzling her pet pig, Wilbur, while a cat purrs in the corner and a veritable flock of tiny dogs yaps away behind a baby gate. “I just love animals, I can’t help it!” she shouts over the delighted squeals of the pig, who is being fed a carrot by the cook. Wilbur, Falcone says, can play the piano and will perform spins if prompted with a Cheerio. “I used to walk him to the park until one day I had somebody taking a picture of me and the pig,” she says. “I thought, Oh, my God! I can see it now. My husband will lose his whole business, and it will be me, the pig, five dogs, a cat and my daughters out on the street, no place to live!”