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Wives Share the Wealth--and Worry

April 18, 1998|LESLIE EARNEST | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

LAGUNA HILLS — What Stacey Nicholas was hoping for when her husband finally dragged home at about 3 a.m. Friday was that they could get a little sleep.

At that point, Henry T. Nicholas III, chief executive of Broadcom Inc., was running on adrenaline, going without sleep since Tuesday night as the Irvine data chip maker prepared to go public with its initial public offering.

But the couple's 3-week-old daughter, their "IPO baby," had other ideas.

"When Nick got home at 3 in the morning, our IPO baby decided it was time to party," Stacey Nicholas said. "I guess she was so excited, she couldn't contain herself."

So was everyone else.

Shelby's daddy and his partner, Henry Samueli, co-founders of the company, were swept up in one of the most wildly successful new stock offerings in California, a stock sale that gave them each about $6.5 million in gains Thursday and would put the value of their remaining shares at $650 million each by the end of Friday.

Bleary-eyed, the Nicholases gave up on sleep Friday morning and headed for the office, braced for the first day of trading.

"All of us were at Broadcom at the crack of dawn today to watch that first trade," said Stacey Nicholas, 33.

They weren't disappointed. By the end of the day Friday, the stock had soared to $53.63 a share.

By late afternoon, sleep depravation was the least of their worries. Stacey Nicholas and Susan Samueli had become giddy and were headed for a Broadcom bash at the Ritz-Carlton hotel.

Neither woman was quite sure what the windfall would mean to their future, but they knew what it meant for their Friday night. Finally, they were going to relax with their husbands.

"We've been anxious all week," said Samueli, 48, who was awakened at 5 a.m. Friday by a congratulatory call from friends in Florida. "We want to party, have some fun with our husbands."

As the two men have become increasingly focused on their work, the families and their business have become interwoven.

Broadcom has become a second home, a place where spouses and children go for dinners when employees can't break away. The founders' wives even created a "play group" for other employees, arranging treks to the park and potluck dinners.

The children, both wives think, will keep their husbands grounded as their fortunes soar. Each couple has three children.

It's "seeing the world through the eyes of a 4-year-old who's really oblivious to IPOs and stock prices" that will make the difference to her husband, said Nicholas.

Samueli, whose children are older, said, "Having adolescents is enough to ground you."

Both women say they will stay focused on family. They plan, for instance, to spend Sunday with relatives. On Saturday, though, they plan to sleep.

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