For those of you who are not in the know, Barry Diller is a media mogul. He's been around Hollywood for decades, and at various times has run the ABC, FOX and USA networks, as well as Paramount Pictures. Today, Diller is chairman of Expedia, and he also runs a conglomerate that operates several web-based businesses.
So why is Diller my hero? Here's what he said at a media summit in Hollywood this week:
“The idea of a company that’s earning money, not losing money, that’s not, let’s say ‘industrially endangered,’ to have just cutbacks so they can earn another $12 million or $20 million or $40 million in a year where no one’s counting is really a horrible act when you think about it on every level. First of all, it’s certainly not necessary. It’s doing it at the worst time. It’s throwing people out to a larger, what is inevitably a larger unemployment heap for frankly no good reason.”
Now, I'm not sure this would apply to me, because I'm not sure my former employer is going to survive. But just yesterday, both NBC and Viacom, both viable and profitable companies, laid off several hundred employees each. helping to extend the cycle of unemployment that will contribute to the depth and length of our current recession. The longer the recession lasts, the less money these giant companies will make, thereby making the recession a self-fulfilling prophesy. Diller went on to say:
“It’s not that you don’t want to earn as much money as you can — it is your obligation, of course — but companies have obligations beyond that and they certainly have obligations beyond that at certain times, in the times in which they operate. And they also certainly ought to know that meeting and beating expectations is probably yesterday’s game and it will be increasingly so, which would be by the way very healthy for companies. Running a company that meets and beats expectations, and that runs their company accordingly, are companies that I would question why anyone would invest in.”
You can read more of Diller's comments here.
What I think Diller is trying to say is that people are still the most important assets of any business. Yes, you can make more money in the short run by cutting your labor costs to the bone, but eventually, what you really need are customers to buy your product... And the only way there will be enough customers is if American business does everything it can to keep people employed so they can BE customers.
Thank you, Mr Diller!