The Last Monopolist

Ed Whitacre has built SBC into a telecom profit machine. But now, he's facing up to competition

Wandering through his sprawling ranch just outside San Antonio, Edward E. Whitacre Jr., chairman and CEO of SBC Communications Inc., keeps a watchful eye on the ground. Besides deer, horses, and two zebras, the property also is home to rattlesnakes and cottonmouths. When the 57-year-old comes across one of the deadly critters, he deftly pins it with a stick and smashes its head with a rock. "It's no big deal," he says with a shrug.

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