Skip to content
Subscriber Only

The One-Guy Theory

Diffuse power begets confusion. Companies led by one guy get things done
The One-Guy Theory
Pietari Posti

There is a central truth about Time Warner (TWX) that new CEO Jeff Bewkes must grapple with: Things. Move. Very. Slowly. There. The stock market yawned after his initial earnings call with analysts on Feb.6, perhaps because two of the major initiatives he mentioned—revamping AOL to sell its dial-up access business more easily and moving toward some decision about Time Warner Cable (TWC)—already have spent a few seasons percolating as possibilities in the press. Furthermore, readying AOL would be "fairly complicated," Bewkes warned. The process could take several months.

This touches on the fundamental media conglomerate problem: There are too many layers. There are too many fiefdoms. There are too many...guys. Guys strolling the corridors, guys clustering around the boardroom, guys slowing things down. (The litany of executives that follows shows they're, still, almost exclusively guys.) This, in a time of great uncertainty and fast-shifting consumer appetites, when sheer speed may determine which companies successfully molt and which simply melt.