Jammin' with Bill Gates
2. Must Try to See TVWe can't help it. We still can't stop giggling whenever somebody tries to convince us that Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) software soon will be the lifeblood of our home entertainment system.
One reason is that we've heard it all before. We heard it in 1993, when Microsoft and Intel (INTC - Get Report) demonstrated Windows for cable television set-top boxes. We heard it in 1995, when Microsoft made a big investment in Comcast (CMCSA - Get Report). And we heard it in 1999, when Microsoft made an even bigger investment in AT&T (T - Get Report).
The other reason we're amused is that Microsoft doesn't seem to understand what an uphill battle it faces in convincing folks it's a paragon of reliability.
3. I'd Rather Be President Than RightWe just learned a new lesson from Disney's (DIS - Get Report) contentious shareholder meeting back in March: You can be right, and it still won't matter. We're talking about executives Susan Lyne and Lloyd Braun, both of whom were in charge of turning around ABC's struggling prime-time schedule. They spoke reasonably eloquently about the three parts of their turnaround plan. Part One was to get costs in order. Part Two was to improve the schedule, bit by bit, night by night. And Part Three, essentially, was to pray for a hit show. We were fascinated. These were entertainment executives who were given their jobs presumably because someone thought they could methodically create success in Disney's TV operations. And here those execs were, admitting that a key part of that success was just plain luck. You have to just plug away, and hope that if you plug away long enough, the gods will smile upon you.
|Knew Their ABCs
Two former execs won the ratings game
"In time, we will get a little lucky somewhere and find that mega-hit," said Braun at the shareholder meeting. "A single true hit would make a remarkable difference," Lyne said.
Both were right. ABC got lucky this fall, with new shows Desperate Housewives and Lost. And ABC's prime-time fortunes indeed appear to have turned around. But neither Lyne nor Braun are around to run their victory laps; Lyne got pushed out last spring, and Braun, seeing writing on the wall, departed voluntarily. Yes, they were right. Fat lot of good it did them.