Big Shots: Business the Rupert Murdoch Way

Now brought completely up-to-date for this new edition, Business The Rupert Murdoch Way not only reveals the secrets of Murdoch’s remarkable success but also draws out the universal lessons and identifies strategies that can be applied to any business or career. From thriving on risk to hard selling, and from loving the detail to betting big on the future, Business The Rupert Murdoch Way is a fascinating insight into what it takes to create a global business empire.

The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch

If Rupert Murdoch isn’t making headlines, he’s busy buying the media outlets that generate the headlines. His News Corp. holdings—from the New York Post, Fox News, and most recently The Wall Street Journal, to name just a few—are vast, and his power is unrivaled. So what makes a man like this tick? Michael Wolff gives us the definitive answer in The Man Who Owns the News.

With unprecedented access to Rupert Murdoch himself, and his associates and family, Wolff chronicles the astonishing growth of Murdoch’s $70 billion media kingdom. In intimate detail, he probes the Murdoch family dynasty, from the battles that have threatened to destroy it to the reconciliations that seem to only make it stronger. Drawing upon hundreds of hours of interviews, he offers accounts of the Dow Jones takeover as well as plays for Yahoo! and Newsday as they’ve never been revealed before.

Written in the irresistible stye that only an award-winning columnist for Vanity Fair can deliver, The Man Who Owns the News offers an exclusive glimpse into a man who wields extraordinary power and influence in the media on a worldwide scale—and whose family is being groomed to carry his legacy into the future.

Murdoch

It was Rupert Murdoch who invented the modern media empire. Now his reach includes two thirds of the Earth’s population. In this revised and updated edition, William Shawcross brings Murdoch’s story up to date. “Of all the biographies on Murdoch, this is the most comprehensive and balanced and comes closest to explaining a bundle of contradictions.”–Edwin Diamond, New York magazine.

Rupert Murdoch the Communist

Do you know the famous misquote that goes something like: “A young man who isn’t a socialist hasn’t got a heart; an old man who is a socialist hasn’t got a head”?

Well, apparently, at some point young Rupert Murdoch was a huge fan of Lenin. The following quote is from Murdoch: Revised and Updated, page 38:

“He added an an extraordinary postscript, written in magenta ink, reaffirming his loyalty to Lenin. “Yesterday was the 29th anniversary of the Great Teacher. We stood to attention for one minute in front of THE BUST on the mantelpiece and drank several toasts-and then settled down to some good reading of adulatory Russian poetry.””

Picturing Rupert reading “adulatory Russian poetry” and owning a bust of Lenin brings a tear to my eye.

Dreamblog: Having a Ball

Two nights in a row I had dreams about attending balls. The first dream had me hanging out with Count Pyotr Andreyevich Tolstoy in 1700s. This is pretty easy to explain — I am reading a book about the Tolstoys.

This morning I had another dream, where I was at a Newscorp ball at the Hilton and talked to Rupert Murdoch. He completely agreed with all the things that I proposed to be done at TV Guide and I woke up very pleased with myself.

Michael on Used Books

New York City is home to what is probably the biggest used book store in the world. Strand is a real New York institution. A giant two level store in a pre-war commercial building on 12th Street and Broadway always drew me in with its outdoor book carts. Every time I entered the store proper I was already burdened with a good stack of 1 dollar hardcovers and 25 cent paperbacks. Even though I was rather poor at the time, I spent a disproportionately large part of my income on books written in a language that was still new to me. But at the Strand I got a pretty good bang for my buck.

In my many shopping sprees there I noticed an unsettling fact. I almost never went home with the books that I was planning to buy, but still my hands were crisscrossed by red marks left by super heavy plastic bags. In fact, in the area that I was most interested in, golden age sci-fi paperbacks, the Strand was strangely lacking. So when I learned about bibliofind.com, (which is a part of Amazon now) from a little ad in New York Times), I stopped going there altogether. Why waste my time in a cramped non-air-conditioned labyrinth of bookshelves blocked by frequently smelly bibliophiles and snarky Strand employees with crazy tattoos and piercings, when I could simply go online and order exactly what I wanted at similar prices? All hail long tail!

Just a few days ago I popped up from subway near Union Square and decided to see if the siren’s song of Strand’s outside book bins would still draw me in. Next thing I knew I was inside, checking my bag in and holding a stack of weird books. Inside the changes and forgotten details overwhelmed me. Even though they were slow to get on the whole web bookselling train (to this day when I order at abebooks.com or Amazon that have thousands of vendors, I am yet to get one book from Strand), the store thrived. They opened an Annex on Fulton St, another one which I never visited at 57th st and a tiny little booth almost the size of a porta-john in front of the Pierre Hotel, right next to the train stop. Rupert Murdoch chose a good location for his apartment.

And the original location began a slow barnsandnoblefication. No, they don’t have a cafe yet (and if they will I hope it’s going to be Joe’s and not Tarbucks). But they added 3rd floor, an elevator (so now you don’t need to walk outside into the side entrance to get to the rare editions department) and demolished the horrible little bathroom on the first floor. It was kind of weird standing where it used to be. The funny notes and cartoons were still taped to the bookshelves and columns, and the basement still had many antique pipes and old electrical cables (I noticed what I think was a cut pre-war high voltage cable the thickness of my arm in the wall). I saw – gasp – fresh cat5 runs.

When I paid for my books and went to get my bag from bagcheck, I commented on my relief to the fact that the old duct tape encrusted boxes where not replaced. The bagcheck guy laughed and said – hey, dude, this is the Strand. We don’t replace stuff until absolutely necessary. I hope they don’t change too much, although I welcome air conditioning, the elevator and the extra floor. I need to get a new camera and go and take some pictures there before everything changes again.

One of the books that I bough in the outside bin cracked me up because I am such an avid fan of Joel on Software:

My wife asked – “Timesharing of what?”. He heh, back in the 70s (when I was born) time sharing was a hot buzzword. And not the real estate kind.

“I’m Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire tyrant. And this is my sky-box.”

You see, ordinarily I have the most horrible memory for faces and names. Just terrible. It’s because my brain is a bit lazy. So I decided to work on that. I bought a book about remembering faces and names and started paying attention.

Something slightly surreal happened to me today. Rupert Murdoch said hello to me in an elevator. You see, I was reading Murdoch’s biography a while back and studied the pictures well enough to recognize him. So I guess he noticed the look of dumb recognition on my face and said “Hello”. I said “Hi”. Probably I’ve seen him many times before in the elevator – his office is a few floors above.

This is approximately how it went down:

Here’s the soundtrack.

NYYC part II

Remember I wrote about New York Yacht Club building? Well, I could not find any decent photos of the building, so I decided to take some myself. I cant’ say I am very pleased with the results, but what the hey.


In a sea of taxicabs.

Baron Harkonnen would have liked this

Just a regular vomiting fish. They seem to be pretty common.

I would really like to take a look inside. Maybe if I rise high enough in corporate ranks Rupert Murdoch will take me there. :)

Unfortunately I haven’t read the Commodore’s biography yet. I think his yacht was a lot like him – ugly, but impressive.