Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders
Diller to profitable companies: Lay off the layoffs
IAC Chief Executive Barry Diller took several groups to task at the Reuters Media Summit, but he reserved special disgust for CEOs at profitable companies who add to the country’s rising unemployment rate.
Also targeted by the former Hollywood executive were “incredibly, shockingly stupid” Big 3 auto executives, the Internet’s strange and growing dictionary, and Hollywood’s lack of creativity.
“The idea of a company that’s earning money, not losing money, that’s not, let’s say ‘industrially endangered,’ to have just cutbacks so they can earn another $12 million or $20 million or $40 million in a year where no one’s counting is really a horrible act when you think about it on every level. First of all, it’s certainly not necessary. It’s doing it at the worst time. It’s throwing people out to a larger, what is inevitably a larger unemployment heap for frankly no good reason.”
A few seconds later, he added:
“It’s not that you don’t want to earn as much money as you can — it is your obligation, of course — but companies have obligations beyond that and they certainly have obligations beyond that at certain times, in the times in which they operate. And they also certainly ought to know that meeting and beating expectations is probably yesterday’s game and it will be increasingly so, which would be by the way very healthy for companies. Running a company that meets and beats expectations, and that runs their company accordingly, are companies that I would question why anyone would invest in.”
Diller was equally confounded by the top three U.S. auto executives, who recently were criticized for separately flying corporate jets to Washington before hearings to request a $25 billion taxpayer bailout.
“It’s incredibly, shockingly stupid if you’re going, when you think about it. On that count alone I wouldn’t give them any money. And not because of any reason other than why would I give money to someone so dumb to go to Washington to ask for money and fly in a Gulfstream. You’d say, ‘You’re not qualified. Unless you leave, I’m not giving you money.’”
* When discussing social networking: “Think of the bimbo words this Internet has created: portal, social network; I could riff on …. networking, horrible word too.”
* Hollywood: “Margins used to be very good in the movie business. They’re now, what, 4, 5 percent in a decent year, so where’s the joy in that? Is there really a joy in ‘Superman 17′ or “Iron Man 2′?”
* Movie studio executives: “‘Mogul’ is yesterday. It just doesn’t apply. You use the word ‘mogul’ and what you do is conjure up the fantasy, the memory of when there were actual movie moguls who made their decisions, believed in what they did, were outsized personalities. There’s no outsized personalities in the movie business anymore.”
* Indiscriminate spending: “There is a reluctance, even with people who have vast resources. Right now, it just isn’t the order; it isn’t the day. You’re not going to see a birthday party for three million bucks. I don’t care how many billions you have or paying Mick Jagger $3 million to come and sing for your birthday. I notice this with my friend. I just notice this as a condition of this period.”
To hear the always entertaining Diller riff, go ahead and click on the links…