Redef Group CEO Jason Hirschhorn kicked off the 2016 edition of TheGrill by blasting Viacom’s management, calling the embattled media conglomerate’s strategy over the last few years “the biggest destruction of value I’ve seen in my life.”
At TheWrap’s annual conference at the Montage Beverly Hills, Hirschhorn, a former Viacom executive himself, said the company’s board failed its employees and investors — and only seemed to enrich its management, such as former Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman and eternal head honcho Sumner Redstone.
“It’s the story of a board that did not act and really went against shareholders and employees in order to protect themselves and an executive,” he said.
Hirschhorn also took aim at former Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, who was ousted on August 20 after Viacom’s stock fell by more than half since the middle of 2014. Viacom spent $9.7 billion buying back its own stock between October 2012 and March 2015. Disney spent less than that to buy Marvel and Lucasfilm, which have been responsible for some of its movie studio’s biggest films ever. Meanwhile, Viacom’s Paramount Pictures continues to struggle, placing sixth and last again so far this year in market share among major studios.
One of Dauman’s last — and ultimately unsuccessful — moves as CEO was to try to sell a minority stake in Paramount to China’s Dalian Wanda Group, which Redstone nixed when he won a power struggle.
Dauman walked away with a $72 million severance package for his troubles, which Hirschhorn also sounded off on.
“Ten years of destruction, $400 million in compensation, $72 million to leave and someone who didn’t understand a creative culture,” he said.
TheGrill 2016 is a two-day event featuring a stunning lineup of thought leaders and disrupters, including famed music manager and Azoff MSG Entertainment CEO Irving Azoff, Showtime CEO David Nevins, Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton and FX Networks CEO John Landgraf. Topics that will be discussed include China’s influence on the online ticketing game, the state of television and virtual reality.