ENRON: The Smartest Guys in the Room


Enron Timeline

Choose a time period below to explore the scandal.

1980s 1990s 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006

A lit-up Enron symbol and the words “Enron Broadband Services” are juxtaposed on top of a giant stock ticker


January 19-20, 2000
Annual Analysts Meeting. First day: Skilling proclaims, “EES (Enron Energy Services) is just rockin’ and rollin.’” Second Day: Enron rolls out its broadband plan. Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems shows up to offer his support. By end of day, stock rises 26 percent to a new high of 67.25 dollars.

April 2000
Conference call with stock analysts. Skilling: “…we have been swamped with new opportunities…”

May 5, 2000
Enron trader, in an email to colleagues, announces “Death Star,” a new strategy to game the California market.

May 12, 2000
Timothy Belden (chief trader for Enron's West Coast power desk) sends email to Enron headquarters in Houston confirming his strategy is working. “So far so good… pricing keeps going up.” Belden has made a massive bet that California energy prices will increase. His e-mail confirms that prices are rising.

May 22, 2000
CA ISO (Independent System Operator), the organization in charge of California’s electricity supply and demand, declares a Stage One Emergency, warning of low power reserves.

June 12, 2000
Skilling makes joke at Las Vegas conference, comparing California to the Titanic.

July 2000
Enron announces that its Broadband unit (EBS) has joined forces with Blockbuster to supply video-on-demand.

August 23, 2000
Stock hits all-time high of 90 dollars. Market valuation of 70 billion dollars. FERC (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) orders an investigation into strategies designed to drive electricity prices up in California.

Sept. 20, 2000
Journalist Jonathan Weil writes piece about mark-to-market and energy companies. Investment analyst James Chanos reads this in the Texas Journal, a regional supplement to the Wall Street Journal.

October 3, 2000
Enron attorney Richard Sanders travels to Portland to discuss Timothy Belden’s strategies.

November 1, 2000
FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) investigation exonerates Enron from any wrongdoing in California.

December 6, 2000
Attornies Christian Yoder and Stephen Hall write internal memo detailing Belden’s strategies.

December 13, 2000
Enron announces that President and COO Jeffrey Skilling will take over as chief executive in February. Kenneth Lay will remain as chairman.

Late 2000
Enron uses “aggressive” accounting to declare 53 million dollars in earnings for broadband on a collapsing deal that hadn’t earned a penny in profit.

Read about Enron in 2001 >>


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