Martin Sorrell's Exit; Facebook's Missed Opportunity

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Exit Sorrell

Martin Sorrell, who resigned on Saturday as CEO of WPP Group, is a singular figure in the industry and will not easily be replaced. His unique qualities were summed up nicely by anonymous “client and friend” quoted in this morning’s Axios email newsletter. This source called Sorrell "the Gary Player of advertising. Nobody has racked up more air miles. Traveled all over the world all the time,” and added that the CEO "was always where the action was, and yet would return an email in minutes no matter where he was in the world and what time of day." This person concluded Sorrell “finally was forced to get a real board of directors and they clearly had enough of him running the place like he still owned it outright." Read more (sans the juicy anonymous quotes).

Raise Your Game

Did Facebook give up a huge opportunity in mobile gaming when it refocused the business around advertising after its IPO? In 2014, Facebook brought in $1 billion in non-advertising revenue – generated mostly from gaming – but in 2017 that tailed off to $700 million. Meanwhile, Tencent, the leading Chinese internet and social platform, has taken over gaming, according to an Esports Observer column. Between 2007 and 2013, Facebook was the go-to gaming platform, elevating companies like Zynga and Playfish, acquired by Electronic Arts, into global gaming players. Advertising will always be Facebook’s priority, but being entirely reliant on brand dollars comes with risks. At some point, Facebook may take its gaming platform off the back burners. More.

Fairytale Ending

The Disney Marvel megahit “Black Panther” did $575 million at the domestic box office in its first month and could pass a billion dollars in ticket sales before leaving theaters. But are the blockbuster popcorn flick days almost behind us? Next year Disney plans to launch a streaming subscription service – i.e., “Disneyflix,” writes Derek Thompson of The Atlantic – with all the movies and shows from “Star Wars,” Marvel, Pixar and Disney Animation Studios (the classic Disney studio). If 8 million people sign up at $10 per month, about what Netflix did in its last quarter, you’re almost at a billion-dollar run rate, and the potential lifetime returns are much stronger. Disney’s transition to subscription streaming may break the back of the US cinema industry, which takes 40% of box office revenue and flat out needs Disney movies to survive. “To save the kingdom, however, Disney may have to blow up the castle.” More.

Return Of The Schrems

While Mark Zuckerberg (and everyone’s attention) was with the US Congress late last week, a court decision in Ireland could prove even more significant. The Irish High Court found “mass indiscriminate processing” of data on EU citizens – not primarily by Facebook, but by US government agencies. The decision isn’t definitive, but the top EU court will now consider the case with the questions raised by the Irish court, The Irish Times reports. If the EU decision upholds the Irish court contentions, and it has a recent history of surprising the US government and business community by revoking treaty-like business arrangements (remember the Safe Harbor pact?), it may put the brakes on all trans-Atlantic consumer data. More.

But Wait, There’s More!

 

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