Enron was one of America’s leading companies prior to its spectacular collapse in 2001. It was frequently named as one of America’s top 10 most admired corporations and best places to work, and its board was acclaimed one of the US’ best five, according to Fortune magazine. As America’s seventh largest company, Enron experienced explosive growth through the 1990s. It had revenues of US$139 ($184) billion, US$62 ($82) billion in assets and employed more than 30,000 people across 20 countries.
Enron did all it could to cultivate an upstanding public image. In 1997, the energy supplier was one of a small number of companies each of which donated more than one million dollars to the Nature Conservancy. In regard to the Kyoto Accords that were being negotiated at this time, Enron planned to benefit in two ways. By supporting the Accords, Enron was placing itself on the good side of the environmentalist public, while at the same time endorsing a document that severely limited the use of coal in energy production. Since Enron dealt only in natural gas, coal would have been competition. Though a praiseworthy idea at the time, the company's willingness to bend regulations to its own purposes might have given cause for alarm. Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling were not only innovative, but they were also increasingly creative when it came to figuring out ways to make money, and to expand Enron's horizons.
Enron created various types of contracts that protected both the buyers and sellers in case of price fluctuation over the length of the contracts. This new marketplace allowed energy users to predict and stabilize costs far into the future. This strategy created by Enron was based on the belief that it could be a big energy player without owning all of the power plants, ships and pipelines that most companies owned. Instead they would use contracts to control facilities in which other had invested. By 2001, Enron had evolved into a market maker for some 1,800