Recently, Viacom mogul Summer Redstone declared that he was dividing Viacom, and that the “age of the (media) conglomerate” was over.
This is interesting news because Redstone was one of the foremost practitioners of “growth by acquisition.” The media kingdoms built alongside the dot com bubble, such as Viacom or The Company Formerly Known as AOL Time Warner, have had relatively poor results, and most have had a difficult time integrating all of their media properties or benefiting from the supposed synergies. Disney itself has struggled, even as it continues to roll out such successful films as Pirates of the Caribbean, or television hits like Desparate Housewives.
The biggest bonanzas often grow from the bottom up, and the best case in point today might be the absolutely huge sales of the latest Pottter book.
The first Potter title was pubbed by U.K. publisher Bloomsbury, and the U.S. rights were picked up by Scholastic. The movie rights were nabbed by Warner Bros. No one company controlled or directed the Potter phenomenon. Instead, the various entities work together as best they can, and are dependent upon the good graces of J.K. Rowling, who retains ultimate control over the Potter empire and, most importantly, a god-like grasp over the lives of her characters. Thankfully, the best and most enduring books aren’t written by committee.