Sometimes billionaires say the darndest things. That’s how we felt after reading the latest statements from media mogul Barry Diller who circulated a memo to Expedia staffers today after news hit that he planned to sell his stake in TripAdvisor and step down as chairman. You may recall that Expedia spun off TripAdvisor late last year, but Diller remains chairman of Expedia.
And it does’t look like that will change anytime soon, as long as the 70-year-old executive holds on to his faculties. In his memo to Expedia employees, Diller proclaimed that he had stuck by the company through good times and bad, and committed to continuing to do so as long as he’s “sentient.”
Diller appears to be more than sentient at the helm of Expedia, whose stock is up 106 percent so far this year. Investors seem to like the idea of him sticking around, with the stock gaining another three percent today.
In an era of canned press releases and boring memos, Diller is a throwback to a time when executives could let zingers fly and speak with authority.
I’ve always appreciated that about Diller from his press calls and statements, including the Expedia earnings announcements.
Here’s the full Diller memo that went out today:
Re: Message from the Chairman
As many of you may have read of the sale of our family’s interest in TripAdvisor, and with questions of whether or not this is the first step in a general disposal of assets, I wanted to be quite clear that the answer to that question is ‘NO’.
This is the statement that I made about TripAdvisor:
“Ever since we acquired TripAdvisor in 2004 it’s been one of the smoothest and most trouble-free growth stories I’ve ever known,” said Barry Diller. “During that time it grew from a startup with $23 million in annual revenues to a $5 billion plus public company with a global brand that operates the world’s largest travel site. Its great progress has happened because of the superb talents of its co-founder and CEO, Steve Kaufer, and the team he leads. My only reason for resigning as Chairman and disposing of my interests is that I have more obligations than time and transferring control of TripAdvisor to Liberty is something I’m very comfortable with — Liberty has proven itself a fine steward and leader of its controlled businesses.”
Since the original sale by Microsoft ten years ago, I’ve been the Chairman of Expedia, through all it’s good times, and some less than good, and enjoyed it thoroughly. I’m very proud of the work you all do and the prospects for the future and plan to stay engaged as long as I’m sentient. I hope this clarifies, and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and new year…