Zzzz Best May Be ZZZZ

Worst Scandal and bankruptcy dethrone the carpet-cleaning king

Although he hailed from California, the Mecca of high-tech entrepreneurship, he made his mark not in silicon chips or spliced genes but in the mundane business of steam cleaning carpets and draperies. Nonetheless, Barry Minkow was touted as a genuine hero of the '80s -- a cocky, self-made overachiever who at age 15 started a garage-shop carpet-cleaning operation called ZZZZ Best (pronounced zeee best) and within six years built it into a $200 million empire. He was a millionaire at 18, and by the time he turned 21 last March, he was the darling of Wall Street, the toast of his...