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Overheard at UBS Global TMT Conference

Dec 7, 2022
Hashtag sign with #UBSTMT

Photo: Wendy Barrow

The UBS Global TMT Conference drew a packed house for a 40-minute chat with Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos inside a beige conference room of the Sheraton Times Square Tuesday afternoon. But it was Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish referring to Helen Mirren as a "badass" that made the room laugh.

Here's what else we heard:

Bakish sees more consolidation coming for streaming and plans to sell Simon & Schuster:

  • "Consolidation has been the rule in business for a long time, certainly been the rule in media. In fact, our company is a byproduct of consolidation. ... When it'll happen? What the combination is? Who's on the top? Who's getting acquired? Who the hell knows? But consolidation will happen."
  • "We haven't changed our point of view that it's not a core asset because it's not a video asset. Our company is a video company. ... We're going to do something in the marketplace with it. ... The only good news is the company's financial performance is materially higher than when we auctioned it."

Sarandos sees TikTok as an asset, live sports as unprofitable and future M&A in IP:

  • People "use TikTok to express their fandom, which actually grows their affinity for content on Netflix. ... Certainly they're a competitor for time, but they're also an incredible marketing platform."
  • "We've not seen a profit path to renting big sports today, not to say there never will be. I'd say the economic models that are built around it are built around the economics of paid television. ... We're not anti-sports. We're just pro-profit."
  • "The thing that's most exciting for me if we ever look at something down the road we will mostly think about ... things that are attractive in the IP space, like we did the Roald Dahl Story Company. ... We're historically builders versus buyers, and so I think we'll probably lean on that for a while."

Salesforce president and CFO Amy Weaver says recent departures are unrelated and the company is still hunting for more deals after 80 acquisitions:

  • "I know people love to try to connect the dots. [Bret Taylor and Stewart Butterfield announcing their exits] are completely unrelated events."
  • "We are very happy with our current product portfolio. ... I don't see a gauging hole that needs to be fit. M&A has been a very important part of our past, and I think it will be part of our future."
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