Time Warner (TWX): Bewkes Colleagues on Bewkes

Here’s what we’re hearing about the man who’s taking over Time Warner:

  • “Unsentimental.” We hear this a lot.  Usually followed by observation that Jeff won’t view it as his job to “shepherd” sacred cow brands and traditions (with the implication being that this is distinctly different from Dick Parsons).  Another word for “unsentimental,” we hope think, is “hard arse.”
  • “Pissed.” Why?  Because before former CEO Jerry Levin up and gave Time Warner away to AOL shareholders at the end of Bubble 1.0, Jeff Bewkes was dynastically wealthy (Time Warner’s stock, you’ll remember, was once in the $90s).  Levin essentially forbade his lieutenants from cashing out on the AOL deal (unlike the AOL guys, who shoveled hundreds of millions of stock out the door), so Jeff rode the TWX train right back down.  So now he’s just plain rich. And pissed.
  • “Incented.” We don’t know how much stock Jeff will get when he formally becomes CEO, but given how long he’s been groomed for the job (and how many top comp consultants he can afford to hire), we imagine it will be accurate to say “a lot.”  And we imagine the unsentimental, pissed Bewkes will do what it takes to make those incentives pay off.
  • “Talented.”  We don’t just hear this–we actually think it.  Bewkes did a great job running HBO, and back in our Wall Street days we were always impressed that he appeared not to buy the AOL hype for so much as a second–even in 2000, when AOL was still going great guns, and Time Warner was falling flat on its face.  Instead, he kept his distance, kept his head down, and kept doing his job–until AOL blew itself up.

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