When news broke that Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox had made an eighty-billion-dollar bid to acquire Time Warner, it looked like a throwback to the days when the media business was dominated by high-profile moguls obsessed with aggressive takeovers. In recent years, content companies have become more sedate and disciplined, focussing on efficiency rather than on acquisitions. But, from the nineteen-eighties until around a decade ago, they tended to be run by C.E.O.s who were largely indifferent to shareholders and unfettered by boards of directors. Moguls like Ted Turner, Sumner Redstone, and Murdoch himself did pretty much whatever they wanted—which, most of the time, meant doing deals and building empires.
These imperial adventures made for good drama but bad business.
James Surowiecki, “Merging Like It’s 1999?”, The New Yorker (11 & 18 August 2014), 34.