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Friday 21 September 2007

Diller gives good ankle

Simpsons greenlighter Barry Diller, also college dropout and former William Morris Agency 'mailroom clerk', also Huffingtonpost supporter, gives a great interview to Portfolio:
The internet mogul speaks his mind on videogames, newspapers, and his own style of management.

[He's] managed over the last four decades to position himself at the forefront of whatever has been new in the popular culture.
I guffawed at one point when the very Ivy League looking interviewer, former gossip columnist Lloyd Grove, probing about the extent of Diller's stake in a Games start-up, said:
L.G.: I was going to ask you to show a little ankle on that.
This bit as well, probing about his 'management style':
... the president of Expedia [Dara Khosrowshahi] talking about how it’s generally people sitting around a table shouting at the top of their lungs.

B.D.: Well, he exaggerates ... But with almost every decision, particularly the ones that get tougher and tougher, you don’t have all the information; you’re never going to get all the information; it isn’t there to get. What you’ve got to try and do is listen for what truth you can hear out of the passions of people arguing what they believe in. Because it’s what they believe in when you don’t have the facts, where you can maybe find something that will give you a lead on what’s more interesting to do, what’s the right course to make a decision.
Talking about the Games start-up:
B.D.: The Xbox and the PlayStation—and of course they’re incompatible with each other. And they’re whiz-bang on graphics—they’re beautiful. But on both sides of it—on the equipment side of it that you have to purchase in on, the production side where you make a game—you’re spending huge amounts of money. The Web, as is proven in so many other areas, is a pretty good distribution mechanism for programming. And very few people have done really high-graphic Web games in a system that will have—in, which is a gathering place both for people who make the games and for viewers to get them—where there’s one easy-to-use, fast place to do pretty sophisticated games. So we think it’s a really original and good idea.
Grove probes him on whether he misses the Hollywood glamour:
L.G.: Some people wonder, just looking in from the outside, they would’ve thought that things like running a movie studio, starting a television network, being an enormous influence on what today is our culture, popular and otherwise, and being responsible for so many things that we just take for granted as part of our daily intake of entertainment, would be much more glamorous and exciting than selling shoes [as with]. Or being in the financial-services business [].

B.D.: Well that would be if you were after glamour. It’s not something I want to be after.... The brilliance of Shoebuy [is that] it is one of the first companies that found out to have a virtual inventory, meaning they have no inventory of their own, what they have figured out is how to get the inventory from hundreds of people who sell shoes in a way that one person can come and access all of it and then get instantly—find out instantly—whether that product is available and buy it instantly. And that’s fascinating to me. Each of the things that we do, we’ll find in there some different, new way of doing things. And that really has interested me since the moment that I kind of got involved in it 13 or 14 years ago. So to the people who say that isn’t making a movie and all of that—I ran movie companies for 20 years. If I wanted to repeat myself, it seems quite boring. It doesn’t seem glamorous to me, it seems repetitive.
LendingTree "will emerge very well" during the current US mortgages crisis, Diller says. But the website being down, small thing though that is, don't bode well. Diller is philosophical.

Talking about the future of newspapers (he's on the Washington Post board):
It’s hard when you use the word newspaper. If you mean news-gathering, or just news, take the paper off, then I’m very hopeful.

So the problem for print is print. I mean, it’s paper, it’s current distribution, and it’s going to be supplanted by other paths. So I’m optimistic about the paths but you certainly can’t be optimistic if you’re running a newspaper.

I think that the work that is done produces value, and it will produce value in the internet and in other forms.


Diller also likes very big yachts "I promise you, it’s not about size, it really isn’t" and is bisexual "[he] did not live as a monk before his marriage [to Diane von Furstenberg, designer and fellow former Studio 54 habitu√©] at the age of 59".

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