A funny thing happened to me recently. I've long been both a Truman Capote fan and an Audrey Hepburn fan -- and therefore, not surprisingly, a Breakfast at Tiffany's fan. A week or two ago there was a show on TV about Audrey Hepburn's life, and it made me want to see Breakfast at Tiffany's again. As someone who dreams of one day having a large-screen high-definition TV and a DVD player, I thought I'd indulge that fantasy a bit and look the movie up on Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) to see what extra goodies were included in the DVD version. (DVD versions of movies often include original trailers, foreign language dubbing, wide screen versions, additional footage, and/or commentary from directors and/or stars.)

What caught my attention, though, was that according to Amazon's Purchase Circle data, Breakfast at Tiffany's is the #5 best-selling video at Deloitte & Touche, a major accounting, tax, and consulting company. What a charming revelation! Evidence that accountants and consultants have souls, that they value whimsy, that the world is not going to heck in a handbasket.

This got me wondering... what are people at other corporations watching or reading? I decided to do a little digging, to see what I could come up with for our seven Rule Breaker companies. Perhaps I was about to discover a key new criterion for unearthing amazing investments! Maybe Purchase Circle research would become a major part of any investor's due diligence. With any luck, this could become known as the "Selena Factor." I was clearly getting ahead of myself a little. Let's just review my findings for now, shall we?

Amgen (Nasdaq: AMGN)
Here are the top video purchases for Amgen employees:

  1. The Matrix
  2. Saving Private Ryan
  3. Blade Runner -- The Director's Cut
  4. Austin Powers -- The Spy Who Shagged Me
  5. Young Frankenstein -- Special Edition
  6. A Bug's Life
  7. The Thomas Crown Affair
  8. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  9. Aliens
  10. The Usual Suspects

Not bad, eh? If I had to guess at what this means, I'd say that these employees enjoy special effects and what-if scenarios. That makes sense, as they're in the business of creating biological special effects, and of making what-if scenarios come true. There's also a playfulness and sense of fun here, and even a movie about some soldiers saving someone. Amgen is in the business of saving people, too.

In books, Amgen employees are reading several tomes on leadership skills, as well as Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor & Middle Class Don't, by Robert T. Kiyosaki, et al. I haven't read this book, but the title alone makes me think it's probably fairly Foolish.

Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN)
What a difference! Whereas Amgeners are more into management strategies, Amazoners are into hiking and biking, with a little Unix and Bertrand Russell thrown in. The #1 book on their list is Noose or Necktie, a poetry tome written by a fellow employee.

Top videos are also very different, reflecting a preference for music and the offbeat:

  1. Cameras on Campus
  2. Tank Girl
  3. Bjork: Volumen
  4. Singles
  5. Clockwatchers
  6. Bjork: All Is Full of Love
  7. The City of Lost Children
  8. Fishing With John, Vol. 1-3
  9. Six-String Samurai
  10. Radiohead: Meeting People Is Easy

America Online (NYSE: AOL)
Again, a different corporate personality emerges -- evident from just the top two videos alone:

  1. Eyes Wide Shut
  2. Tae-Bo Workout: 4 Pack
  3. The Matrix
  4. Double Jeopardy
  5. American Pie -- Unrated Version
  6. Stigmata
  7. Tarzan
  8. Cary Grant Twinpack -- Father Goose/That Touch of Mink
  9. The Thomas Crown Affair
  10. The Maltese Falcon

Books are even more revealing. Those in the #1, #2, and #10 spots are all about physical and mental health. Three of the top ten are Harry Potter books -- ostensibly written for kids, but enjoyed by adults as well. AOLers appear to be into exerting energy to keep in shape as well as escaping into a little fantasy.

@Home (Nasdaq: ATHM)
Hmm... I couldn't find any listing for this company. Perhaps its employees are worked so hard that they have absolutely no time to read or watch a video or relax. Or maybe the company has asked not to be listed among the Purchase Circles. Or maybe it was right there and I just couldn't find it. Stranger things have happened.

Celera Genomics (NYSE: CRA)
Curses! Foiled again. No listing for Celera.

eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY)

The Motley Fool (Hey -- it doesn't hurt to try!)
Nope, no Purchase Circle for the Fool, either. Sigh. If you're really curious about what Fools read, though, check out some of our Hot Stack Tips.

Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX)
Well, geez... no Starbucks listing either, as far as I could tell.

There really are a lot of companies listed, though. For example, I'm still in the "S" category, having searched in vain for Starbucks. Here are just a few of the many "S" companies represented:

  • Schlumberger Limited
  • Seagate Technology, Inc.
  • Shell Oil Company
  • Silicon Graphics, Inc.
  • Sony Corporation of America
  • State Street Boston Corporation
  • Sun Microsystems, Inc.
  • Sybase Incorporated

I thought I'd try reversing my approach -- picking a few interesting movies and seeing which companies' employees are most interested in watching them.

For example, how about The Little Mermaid? Any company generating a lot of orders of this probably has many employees in their 30s and early 40s, with children. Here are some of the companies in this Purchase Circle:

  • Microsoft Corporation
  • Cisco Systems
  • Symantec Corp.
  • Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette
  • Apple Computer, Inc.
  • Electronic Arts
  • Intuit
  • Sony Corporation of America
  • U S WEST Communications
  • TRW Inc.
  • Physicians' Online, Inc.
  • 3Com Corporation

How about something less cheery, such as Silence of the Lambs?

  • America Online
  • Monsanto
  • BMC Software, Inc.
  • AirTouch Communications
  • State Street Boston Corporation

Night of the Rodents?
Oops. That's what I get for asking TMF Bro to name a scary movie. It seems he made that one up.

Looking up who's watching depressing movies might suggest which companies' employees are in a funk, dragging their feet, and kicking cans on their way to work. Reservoir Dogs? Credit Suisse First Boston. Das Boot? Merrill Lynch & Co.

Who's watching the melodramatic Titanic? Quite a few companies are listed -- here are some:

  • Booz Allen & Hamilton
  • A.T. Kearney, Inc.
  • i2 Technologies, Inc.
  • Cisco Systems
  • Oracle Corporation
  • Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.
  • Fidelity Investments
  • General Electric Co.
  • Foote, Cone & Belding Communications, Inc
  • United Parcel Service
  • Qualcomm Inc.
  • Dell Computer Corporation

Kind of makes you chuckle, doesn't it, to think of handsomely paid consultants and Jack Welch's underlings watching Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet flirting?

I thought I'd check to see who was watching Rocky, as that might indicate a conscious or subconscious determination to see their employer knock out the competition. Unfortunately, it doesn't show up on any company's radar. Same with Jaws.

Look up Casablanca, though, and there are some perhaps surprising (and maybe even misty-eyed) viewers:

  • Morgan Stanley Group Inc.
  • Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette
  • Lehman Brothers
  • Citicorp
  • U.S. Senate

After more than an hour of browsing through Purchase Circles, I have not convinced myself that this should be a vital part of anyone's investment research regimen. It is fun, though, and does yield a few possible insights.

Have a great weekend, Fools!