Openwave: DON LISTWIN/Redwood City, Calif.

DON LISTWIN/Redwood City, Calif.

Don Listwin remembers the day in November 2000 when his company's bloodletting went from metaphor to messy reality. The CEO of cell-phone-software maker Openwave had seen his firm's stock plunge more than a third in a single week, and he was about to address jittery investors. But some jagged hardware on a conference table ripped the pants of his $3,000 Brioni suit--and that wasn't all. As Listwin put his hand to his hip pocket, he found it covered in blood. Now he has those torn pants framed on the wall opposite his desk. THROUGH FAILURE, reads a plaque on the frame,...

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