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Who’s Who Of NSA And Tech Heavyweights Brought Together At WME Annual Retreat

By | Thursday January 9, 2014 @ 11:56am PST

wmelogo__130130012227-200x113WME is wrapping up its third day of its annual retreat at La Costa Resort & Spa and the roster of speakers the agency has put together is looking more and more each year like a mini-Herb Allen Sun Valley Conference. The mini, however, is major with 450 WME agents gathered to listen to such prominent names as former CIA director and four-star Gen. Michael Hayden who once headed the National Security Administration and returned again this year. He headlines a roster that includes former and current Google and Facebook executives and even more political heavies. Also, one of the highlights, agents say, was Anne Wojciciki, one of the co-founders of 23andMe, a biotech and genomics company which her husband’s company Google invested heavily into (along with Genetech). It produces direct-to-consumer personal genome test kits that can determine inherited traits and genetic risk factors. Another speaker said to have one of the strongest presentations was Regina Dugan, the former head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the first first female director to run the intelligence group before leaving for Google. She spoke about ingenuity and how you can be successful if you use the tools presented before you. She has previously done a series of TED talks. “It’s been really quite remarkable this year,” said one agent in attendance. “It like a bunch of really cool TED talks. I have learned so much.”

ari emanuelpatrick-whitesellEach year WME executives Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell gather their agents for three days to listen to talks from some of the most influential people in America. This year’s lineup is said to include Deputy NSA Advisor Thomas Donilon, who stepped down in June 2013 and has worked with the Obama administration in various capacities; and Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer for Facebook and author of the book Lean-In about how to motivate women to take their place in the executive ranks. FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Summit - Day 2She is on the board of the Walt Disney Co. and used to work at Google in sales and helped launch Google’s philanthrophic endeavors. She was also the chief of staff for the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. Joining them are Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom (who previously worked at Google where he helped implement Gmail and other offerings); Mixed in with this prestigious group of political and tech speakers will be Michael Rapino, CEO of Live Nation, which owns and operates some of the country’s largest amphitheaters and and concert venues such as the House of Blues, Snoop-Dogg_5Hollywood Palladium, and Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. Guests also include WME’s rapper-musician-composer-producer Pharrell Williams and Snoop Dogg. Read More »

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Big Media Moguls With Out-Of-Whack Compensation: EXCLUSIVE DEADLINE LIST

By | Monday May 6, 2013 @ 12:02pm PDT

Media CEO Compensation 2012EXCLUSIVE: Big Media companies don’t tell you when something’s rotten with the corporate culture. But this list should help you begin your search. This is Deadline’s third annual tally of out-of-whack CEO compensation. It’s an account of chiefs who not only make vastly more than you and me, but also collect far more than their closest colleagues at their own companies. Corporate governance experts become concerned when a CEO consistently makes at least three times more than the median for the four other highest-paid execs that the SEC requires companies to list in the annual proxy statement. That’s the standard I use, and it indicates that 14 out of 31 media companies that I tracked and that have already filed 2012 data failed the test — in many cases miserably.

Related: Big Media Pay: Who Were 2012′s Highest Paid CEOs?

Out of whack CEO pay can send a poisonous message to employees, including others in the C-suite. Internal pay parity “is critical to ensuring fairness and encouraging a collaborative team effort,” News Corp says in its proxy. Huge disparities also can tip you off to troublesome boardroom beliefs. It might indicate that directors lack faith in the business or leadership team — and fear that things will unravel if the top dog leaves. It may be a symptom of corporate groupthink where people give the chief credit for everything that goes well, and seek scapegoats for everything that doesn’t. Or it might mean that directors are beholden to the CEO — or share a cynical and grandiose sense of entitlement — and see nothing wrong with helping him (it’s almost always “him”) stuff his pockets with shareholders’ money, even where there’s little danger that he might leave if paid less. Whatever the case, researchers find that all too often the damage from such obeisance to the CEO eventually hurts a company’s performance and stock price. (For example, herehere, here, and here.)

Related:
Out Of Whack — 2011
Out Of Whack — 2010

This list looks at the biggest and best known infotainment providers. I include Web-based companies such as AOL and Yahoo that produce and sell their own content, and added Facebook which depends on ad sales. But I left out ones including Apple and Verizon that generate most of their revenues from hardware or personal communications services. (I’ve also left out Google, where the top execs benefit from stock performance and only collect a symbolic $1 in compensation.) For context, I’ve also noted how many people the company employs, and how that’s changed since the last fiscal year, to see whether these fabulously rich CEOs were job creators. The data isn’t nearly as revealing as it ought to be. For example, the SEC doesn’t require companies to specify how many jobs are based in the U.S., or even how many are full time. I’ve also included the CEO’s 2012 compensation rank among other media chiefs in our list, as well as among all media executives listed in their company proxies, and the average compensation over the last three years. (To avoid having them counted twice, I combined the compensation that Sumner Redstone collects as chairman of  CBS and Viacom, and that Charles Dolan collects at Cablevision and AMC Networks.)

A few things to keep in mind: The SEC reporting rules only cover the top-paid executives of publicly traded U.S. companies. That means we’ll miss a lot of highly paid people who work at subsidiaries of a big company; Universal Studios’ Ron Meyer may be a big deal in Hollywood, but he didn’t make the top echelon at his corporate parent Comcast. Also, the pay data given to the SEC can spike in a year when an executive cashes in stock or collects deferred compensation. Averages also can be skewed when people on the list come and go in the middle of the year. So consider this to be a starting point to judge whether a CEO was paid fairly — not a final verdict.

I’ll be back soon with additional information including a similar list showing CEOs whose pay was more in line with his or her colleagues. Here’s how the out-of-whack CEOs stack up for 2012:

1. Live Nation: Michael Rapino. The concert and ticketing giant had a so-so year generating higher revenues but even higher costs — and a net loss. Last year’s big tours included Madonna, Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Roger Waters, and Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band. Company shares appreciated 8.1% in 2012, lagging the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 which was +12.7%. But the big excitement took place at year-end with the surprising departure of Chairman Irving Azoff, taking performers he represents including Eagles, Van Halen, and Christina Aguilera. That left Rapino clearly in charge — but under the watchful eye of Liberty Media, which owns nearly 27% of the stock. With a flood of option awards, the CEO’s compensation rose 138.4% to $28.5M (The package: $2.2M salary, $243,281 bonus, $2.6M stock awards, $19M option awards, $4.4M non-equity compensation, $46,408 other compensation.) That was a whopping 17.0 times more than the median for the four other highest paid execs — up from last year’s 5.5 times — and 46% of the pie. Even these numbers underplay the disparity in executive pay: The group of other execs includes Azoff who made $27.4M. The company had 7,100 full time employees at year end, up 500. (Pay rank among media CEOs: 9. Among all media execs: 11. Average annual pay over last three years: $18.7M.) Read More »

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John Malone: Liberty Media To Become “As Complicated As We Need” To Be

Investors seemed to like what they heard at today’s annual confab for John Malone’s Liberty Media. Shares of the hodge-podge of companies it either owns or controls were up on a day when the market was shaken by new fears that the European debt crisis will widen. Liberty Starz ended the day +1% and Liberty Capital was +0.5% after their parent said it will combine the two tracking stocks into a single asset-based security. But Live Nation was +6.7%, Barnes & Noble was +5%, and Sirius XM  was +4.8% following CEO presentations to the Street.

Malone was more subdued than usual. But the executive who became a billionaire on the back of his devilishly complex deals — often to help him avoid paying taxes — got a chuckle in his response to a question about whether the changes in his tracking stocks will make their businesses confusing for investors. “We’ll get as complicated as we need to get to highlight value.” he said.

Sirius XM’s Mel Karmazin won the biggest laughs, though, with Read More »

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Live Nation Delivers Sour 3Q Numbers, But Investors Are Relieved

By | Thursday November 3, 2011 @ 4:13pm PDT

Live Nation sure made it hard to find the good news in its 3Q report. The basic data looks terrible: It had net income from continuing operations of $63M, down 3.1% from last year’s 3Q, on revenues of $1.79B, down 2.5%. The revenue figure was far less than the $1.91B that analysts expected. And the continuing operations delivered 27 cents a share while analysts forecast 38 cents. So where’s the good news? The concert business was more profitable than expected, helping the company to deliver adjusted operating income of $203.6M — up 6.8% from last year and beating the $197M that the Street forecast. “It was a huge relief” says Maxim Group’s John Tinker — especially since lots of investors figured the concert business would be one of the first victims of a weakening economy. Live Nation shares were flat in after-hours trading. “Concerts and sports, the core of our business, have both held up,” CEO Michael Rapino told analysts in a conference call. Still, there are a few potential problems ahead. The company says it might lose $10M in adjusted operating income in 4Q due to the NBA lockout. Also, big acts including Van Halen, Neil Diamond, and Jimmy Buffet have deferred their tour plans, and The Eagles reduced their schedule — although the company says that Diamond and Van Halen will be back in next year’s 2Q.

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Live Nation Says Stage Is Set For Strong 2012 Despite New Competition

Don’t tell Live Nation executives that their concert acts are getting old. While one-time hitmaker Neil Diamond continues to hit the stage at age 70, Chairman Irving Azoff says that “every year there’s a Taylor Swift, or Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga.” He adds: “We’re managing all the winners of The X Factor. We predict the tour will be huge. It’s Idol plus The Voice plus Glee on steroids.” That kind of shameless self promotion was the order of the day this afternoon as Azoff and CEO Michael Rapino made the investment case for their concert venue, talent management, and ticketing colossus at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media Communications and Entertainment conference. Rapino says that “in an overall tough economic time, we’re thrilled that the industry came off a horrible year and stabilized…. We will finish the year flat to up as  an industry and the early pipeline for 2012 looks good.”

Azoff says that Live Nation plans to take advantage of the crowds that will flock to Europe next year around the Summer Olympics in London. “The biggest names in the business will be on the road,” he says. “We’ll get a non-economy blip.” One of his mainstays, The Eagles, continues to tour and plans a Broadway show called (what else?) Hotel California. “No one knows whether the Rolling Stones are touring or not,” Azoff says. The execs say that they’re also making deals that could pay off — including … Read More »

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Live Nation Credits Growing Concert Ticket And Ad Sales For 2Q Results Above Expectations

Live Nation’s increase in ticket prices didn’t deter many people from going to see concerts in 2Q. The company reported net earnings of $13.3M, up from a $32.8M loss in the same period last year, on revenues of $1.56B, up 23.1%. Profits at 7 cents a share beat the 2 cents expected by analysts who follow the company. The Street also fell short in forecasting just $1.32B in revenues. The company says that 13.1M people attended 5,834 events sponsored by Live Nation; last year it had 12.3M people at 5,558 events. Although concert revenues were up, this year’s events were less profitable: Live Nation made up for that with big increases in earnings from its Artist Nation talent-management unit and tour sponsorships. Meanwhile, Ticketmaster sold $2.1B worth of tickets, up 15.7%. “We are seeing the global ticketing business stabilize and concert business grow year-over-year, and we remain optimistic about continue growth opportunities in the industry long term,” says CEO Michael Rapino. Live Nation shares are up 5.4% in after-hours trading after falling 6.4% during the day.

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Concert Ticket Sales Down? No Matter, Biz Deals Lead To Rocking Pay At Live Nation

It’s fascinating to watch companies in decaying industries resort to financial sleight of hand to try and survive — which is why we’re going to start paying attention to the music business. But you’d never know that music, including the concert business, is in trouble from the huge compensation packages that Live Nation just revealed it paid last year to its two top executives: chairman Irving Azoff and CEO Michael Rapino. They collectively made $38.7 million, mostly because they engineered several business deals including a merger with Ticketmaster — a combination that tightened Live Nation’s grip over the concert business but provided no discernible benefits for consumers. The financial gamesmanship certainly worked well for Azoff. He picked up a lot of Ticketmaster stock back when Barry Diller controlled the company and wanted to merge it with Azoff’s Front Line, a management firm that handles performers raging from The Eagles to a blues band that Cablevision CEO Jim Dolan fronts in his spare time, JD and the Straight Shot. Diller left Live Nation last year after losing a boardroom battle. Still, Azoff made $22.8 million in 2010, which included $13.8 million for his Ticketmaster and Front Line holdings. Live Nation also paid $731,130 to a private airplane company that Azoff owns — as well as salaries to his son, daughter and son-in-law, who hold non-executive jobs at Live Nation. Rapino ended up with nearly $15.9 million, a 138% raise over his compensation in 2009. Read More »

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