When Lucent Technologies was spun off from AT&T in 1996, the new company was full of promise. An old-line manufacturer, it quickly became a sizzling hot stock thanks to the emergence of the Internet and the build-up of telecommunications. The stock market was soaring, and Lucent flew with it. Within a few short years it became the sixth-largest corporation in America and the most widely held stock in the country. Yet only months later, Lucent was gasping for life, victim of the greatest stock-market bubble in history.
Optical Illusions is the story of a financially sound company steeped in world-class talent, dominant in one of the fastest-growing industries, that in the space of two years found itself downgraded to a junk-bond credit rating, under investigation by the SEC for its accounting practices, the value of its stock reduced to the price of a cup of coffee. Lisa Endlich tells the fascinating tale of the company that epitomized the misfortunes of the telecom industry, leaving investors and employees shocked and confused.