The Liberty Media founder and chairman said he had invited Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings to a Liberty board meeting “and he assured us all that he had no intention of producing his own content … to which I responded ‘bullshit.’ It was clear where he was headed. If he didn’t understand [yet], he would,” the man regarded of one of media’s savviest investors said at the Paley Conference where he was interviewed by longtime colleague Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty Global.
“I tried when I chaired DirecTV to acquire Netflix, and that was when [Hastings] was struggling with getting rid of his old mail platform. What I saw was global scale,” said Malone, who grew to prominence presiding for years over one of the nation’s biggest cable operators, TCI, which he sold to AT&T in 1989. He retained control of Liberty, a holding company whose investments have shifted over the years but currently include positions in SiriusXM, Live Nation, MLB’s Atlanta Braves, Formula One, Discovery, Charter and others.
Asked for a big prediction — the future of media — he said: “I think for me the message is very clear. There is not going to be any more mass media. Media will be the computers of individuals, and every individual will have a deep database on them in the hands of large organizations who are going to use artificial intelligence to service and exploit the knowledge of that individual.”
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Speaking from his property in Maine where Malone and his wife have been riding out COVID playing lots of pool, he gave a shout-out to Roku as a deft and expanding channel aggregator and called Amazon a favorite stock.
His advice for President-elect Joe Biden was to work with Mitch McConnell and what he hopes will remain a Republican Senate. “I hope the Republicans retain control of the Senate after January because if you really are a centrist and really want to bring the country together, you can use the leverage of the Senate to keep the House from demanding extremist activities and have a path to achievement of your objectives without being overly disruptive.”
He added, “I gave a lot of money to Susan Collins up here in Maine because she’s been a centrist.” The Maine senator just handily won re-election despite a big Democratic push to unseat her.
In a buy-sell “lightning round,” he told Fries he’s “definitely a buyer” of Amazon and and weighed in on others stocks and sectors thusly:
Google parent Alphabet: “OK, I would own that stock.
Facebook: “I would own that stock”
(A caveat he noted — both Alphabet and Facebook might face regulatory headwinds.)
Discovery: “I love it.”
Studio business: “Really tough.”
Movie theaters: “Dying.”
Broadcast networks: “Traditional vehicles [are] going to go.”
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