Ben Silverman – Master Innovator?

I was at a party once and (G. Gordon) Liddy put his hand over a candle, and he kept it there.  He kept it right in the flame until his flesh was burned.  Somebody said, “What’s the trick?”  And Liddy said, “The trick is not minding.”

Deep Throat – All The President’s Men

$100 million start up fund, All the President's Men, Alpo, Barry Diller, Ben Silverman, Charlie McCarthy, Coca-cola, Ed McMahon, Edgar Bergen, Ernest Hemingway, Ex-lax, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ford Trucks, G. Gordon Liddy, Gatorade, George Cloney, IAC, Jeff Zucker, Jill Kennedy, Khan Manka, Manka Bros., media analyst, NBC Universal, On Medea, OnMedea, Ryan Seacrest, Starbucks, The Biggest Loser, The Restaurant, The Tonight Show, twitter, William FaulknerI’m not suggesting by the title of this entry and the above quote that Ben Silverman is as nuts as G. Gordon Liddy.  Far from it.  I personally believe he is too big of a pussy to even come close to burning his hand in a flame.   But there is a certain recklessness (and his bizarre relishing in this recklessness) that makes the comparison apt.  It’s almost like he wants you to call him a “hard-partying, womanizing, break the rules kind of guy.”  That’s his badge of honor.  And it works for most rock stars and even George Clooney – but not Ben.

I know for a fact that a few drugs and a good amount of booze has helped to shape some of the greatest content ever produced.  Can you imagine jazz evolving as it did without the use of drugs?  Can you imagine Hemingway or Faulkner or Fitzgerald writing sober?  Can you imagine the filmmaking of 1970s without any chemicals to get through the long nights?  Luckily we don’t have to.

There have been many successful executives in the past (and some currently) that have partied just as hard – but you don’t hear much about their social lives because they do their jobs and hit their numbers.  When you fail, everyone starts looking very closely at how you spend your day.

Success would have saved Mr. Silverman and he would have been allowed to do whatever he wanted.  (And Jeff Zucker probably would have encouraged him to continue to do whatever it was he was doing.)  But he failed.

Ben Silverman was an absolute disaster at NBC.  Practically everything he touched turned to shit (the list of expensive flops is long and you most likely have read about them elsewhere) – and yet, here he is, partying his way to the top of another company.

$100 million start up fund, All the President's Men, Alpo, Barry Diller, Ben Silverman, Charlie McCarthy, Coca-cola, Ed McMahon, Edgar Bergen, Ernest Hemingway, Ex-lax, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ford Trucks, G. Gordon Liddy, Gatorade, George Cloney, IAC, Jeff Zucker, Jill Kennedy, Khan Manka, Manka Bros., media analyst, NBC Universal, On Medea, OnMedea, Ryan Seacrest, Starbucks, The Biggest Loser, The Restaurant, The Tonight Show, twitter, William FaulknerIn my opinion, Barry Diller has done his shareholders a great disservice by letting this failure control a $100 million fund to bridge “the gap between traditional television and the internet”.

Sounds like an amazing idea, Barry!  Somebody has got to figure out that puzzle, I suppose.  And based on all the executive talent out there, you picked… Ben Silverman.

But, stupid me, I keep forgetting, based on press releases, Ben Silverman is a great innovator and the absolute right man to bridge that ‘gap’ (right man, that is, if advertisers are ready to party like animals, miss meetings, sleep late and never see a project through to the end).

But let me give credit where credit is due.  Mr. Silverman is a guy who seamlessly integrated advertiser’s products into storylines of reality and scripted shows such as The Restaurant and The Biggest Loser.  Wow, was that restaurant cooking with ACTUAL FOOD?  Was that biggest loser drinking a Gatorade?  I’m glad Mr. Silverman came up with the idea to let the biggest losers hydrate themselves.  That’s a stroke of genius.  The contestants should be very glad he didn’t cut the deal with Starbucks – the biggest losers would have then had to hydrate with Venti Lattes.)

Note to BenEd McMahon sat next to a dog eating Alpo on The Tonight Show and it sold a lot of AlpoCharlie McCarthy (Edgar Bergen’s ventriloquist puppet) sold a ton of Ex-lax on the radio and he’s a freakin’ puppet that can’t possibly know what it’s like to be constipated!  Products sell because people want the products – not because a Ford Truck was seamlessly integrated into a webisode about a cop and a hooker.

There have been great innovations in advertising (the banner ads on the right side of this blog for one) – but Ben Silverman hasn’t come up with one (no matter how hard he tries to say that he has).  Mr. Silverman has obviously gotten very lucky in life and now has $100 million to play with, which will buy a lot of entertainment for himself and his daily girlfriends as he listens to pitches for web series about hot tits and Vegas fraternities.  I wish him all the best trying to sell those to Coke.

Here’s a prediction that will beat any tweet that Ryan Seacrest will make today:

The venture will fail – without fail.  Sorry, Barry.

Accel Partners, Ben Silverman, Bob Iger, Chris Hughes, David Kirkpatrick, Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin, Gerald Levin, Greylock Partners, HBO, Jeff Bewkes, Jeff Zucker, Jill Kennedy, Joanna Shields, Jon Miller, Khan Manka, Li Ka-shing, Manka Bros., Mark Cuban, Mark Zuckerberg, Matt Cohler, MySpace, Nicolas Carlson, OnMedea, Owen Van Natta, Paul Buchheit, Peter Thiel, Rupert Murdoch, Sheryl Sandberg, Sumner Redstone, Toy Story 3Jill Kennedy – OnMedea
 

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