A: I can talk honestly. For the most part it's been a pretty positive experience. The majority of acquisitions don't go well. Big Internet companies make a lot of acquisitions. They buy the company, eradicate the brand. The entrepreneurs leave, and they end up with a few engineers and some functionality for their website. The odds were really against us. But as we talked to Rupert Murdoch and (Chief Operating Officer) Peter Chernin, we realized that they had different attitudes. There was more of an entrepreneurial spirit. Decision making was streamlined. They value risk taking, but in a measured fashion. News Corp. has reinvented itself several times, starting a fourth network when everyone said it couldn't be done, starting a news network that's now bigger than CNN and MSNBC ge combined, being nowhere in the Internet two years ago to being a real player today. That doesn't happen by accident.
Q: Sounds like there is a case to be made for mergers, even though so many fail?
A: Yes. Without them, here's the rub: It's very difficult to create a disruptive technology within a large, established organization. You're so focused on your own products and your competition that you don't have time to think about what's next, what to experiment with. You have to constantly improve on the product you have. Either you go out and buy, or create a separate skunks-works organization that's not tethered to the larger company and that can develop the next big thing. There are really smart, creative entrepreneurs who don't want to be part of a large organization for long, but they can create great companies, and that's why there is such a hot M&A market for Internet companies.
Q: I've read that one of Murdoch's traits is that he's cheap when it comes to compensating his executives. News reports say that you and co-founder Tom Anderson want $50 million to stay two more years, but News Corp. has offered $15 million. How do you overcome that?
A: Those are rumors, nothing more. We can't comment on any potential compensation or a new deal other than to say that Tom and I are excited to work with News Corp. in the years to come.
Q: News Corp. is acquiring Dow Jones. What kind of culture clash are the folks at The Wall Street Journalin for?
A: Acquisitions create fear. That's natural. But from what I've heard there are a lot of people over there who are excited because they will take, if not the most, one of the most powerful newspaper brands in the world and grow it. They will invest editorially and in certain bureaus. I don't think there will be a culture clash, not with the opportunity to make it bigger and more culturally relevant. When we got acquired by News Corp. we had 23 million unique users. Now we have more than 110 million. We were localized in the United States. Now we're localized in 23 countries. We're going to add another 10 countries this year.
Q: Murdoch is kind of an old dude. Does he even understand MySpace?
A: He wasn't a heavy user, but he knew what it was about. He knew how many users were on it. He knew how fast it was growing. He knew that it was becoming part of popular culture. I think it was the same gut feeling that he and Chernin had about American Idol being a pop sensation, or that there was a need for another news channel.
Q: How do you and Rupert get along?