Diller, Emanuel, Malone Hatefest: Inside the Live Nation Board Meeting

The meeting devolved into a shouting match between Barry Diller, Mark Shapiro and Ari Emanuel — over a meeting date, not control of the company

EXCLUSIVE

The Live Nation board meeting on Monday that concluded with Barry Diller anouncing he was to give up the chairmanship of the board is described as a “circus” by one participant.

You call this a corporation?

The meeting devolved into a shouting match between Diller and board members Ari Emanuel, Mark Shapiro and CEO Michael Rapino, not over control of the company – as some reports have said – but over something entirely banal:

Postponing the date of an annual directors meeting.

Emanuel, Shapiro and Rapino took Diller’s recommendation to postpone the meeting as a power play of some kind. Apparently it really wasn’t, and instead had to do with the New York Stock Exchange declining to give Live Nation a waiver to move its meeting.

Emanuel and Shapiro didn’t want to move the date.

So on a board that more than one person describes as dysfunctional, that was the spark that set off a dispute, leading to an explosion in which the meeting became “a bunch of people sitting around and yelling at each other,” as one participant put it.

Shapiro, formerly CEO of Six Flags and currently without a central portfolio, yelled at Diller: “You want to change the meeting (date) so you can kick us off the board! Do you think I’m some kind of imbecile?”

Diller, sotto voce: “He thinks I’m some kind of super imbecile.”

Shortly after the meeting ended, someone — could it have been the chatty,  WME-Hollywood whisperer Emanuel? — leaked the news that Diller had given up the chairmanship.

Diller stated on Wednesday that he had always planned to serve as chairman only for a year after the merger of his Ticketmaster Entertainment and the concert promotion company Live Nation.

That’s true. But it’s also true that the board of Live Nation, a company in which Diller only has 1 percent, is no kind of fun. (Playing footsie with Newsweek – now that’s fun.)

In addition to the acrimony between the aforementioned board members and Diller is the underlying tension with board member John Malone of Liberty Media, who sued Diller unsuccessfully over the mogul’s strategic decisions to break up IAC/Interactive into divisions. (Liberty owns about 14 percent of Live Nation and is also a shareholder in IAC.)

Greg Maffei, the CEO of Liberty, and Diller despise one another, by all accounts.

Meanwhile, Live Nation struggles with a moribund public appetite for concert-going and a depressed stock price.

So how much fun is that? Diller has plenty of other companies into which he can throw his energy. My takeaway is the man didn’t need the headache. So he resigned.

“This board is a circus,” said one insider. “Barry just got aggravated.”

Editor's note: A previous version of this post listed Shapiro as being with Frontier Communications, where he is currently a director.