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The Curse of the Mogul: What's Wrong with the World's Leading Media Companies Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 15, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, October 15, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The media industry is facing multiple financial and operational crises on an unprecedented scale. Rampant overpaying for acquisitions and strategic investments make incompetent corporate leaders as complicit in media's decline as the difficult economy. The authors, professors at the Columbia Business School, focus their sights broadly but home in on the usual suspects—Ted Turner, Rupert Murdoch, Disney and an alphabet of flailing companies (e.g., TBS, CNN, TNT). They discuss the dilemma of new media vs. old, the difficulty of establishing efficient operations, mergers that worked and mergers that didn't, and attempt to debunk any number of media myths, most assiduously the content is king platitude—considering especially that the movie, music and book industries are all floundering. An interesting subject in theory, but this treatment has the feeling of a homework assignment rather than an exposé and plods along to its meandering conclusion at a snail's pace. Dull writing and a complete lack of human interest detail make this a tough read and a tougher sell. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Its [a] disciplined, cogent analysis of what does and doesn't constitute real competitive advantage."
-The New York Times

"Moguls aside, the author's analysis...provides a sharp reminder of the importance of focusing on competitive advantage and on the barriers that enable it."
-The wall Street Journal

"the authors argue lucidly that the cadre of media moguls who dominated headlines for much of the past two or three decades have been deal junkies chasing rivals out of misguided notions about how to achieve long-term success."

"a shrewdly titled analysis"

"This book is the clearest, most valuable explanation of the evolving economic imperatives of the media industry-an industry whose impact is pervasive in our society today. It is essential reading for anyone with a serious interest in media."
-Joseph E. Stiglitz, recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 2001

"Packed with vivid examples, The Curse of the Mogul dares to say what has long been staring us in the face: to understand the media business you need to be a psychotherapist. Mogul is an insider's view of how big egos often trump rational decision making, which is invaluable and hugely entertaining for anyone interested in the high-profile world of media."
-James B. Stewart, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Disney War

"The Curse of the Mogul is a true blessing for anyone with a stake in the future of news, books, movies, music, TV, or any other branch of the entertainment-information complex. The authors' diagnosis of the malaise afflicting media companies is brilliant, and their conclusion that bad management decisions rather than inexorable economic trends are mostly to blame is compelling."
-Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind; Knight Professor of Business Journalism, Columbia University

"Knee, Greenwald, and Seave have written a must-read book for students of the media industry and strategy. Stressing the quest for margins over mogul status and a drive for efficiency over the best table at Michael's, they weave strong economic advice for those who would try to understand-or even make money in-the media business."
-Glenn Hubbard, dean and Russell L. Carson Professor of Finance and Economics, Columbia Business School

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover (October 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591842646
  • ASIN: B003B3NW12
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,285,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
When many business books are hagiographies describing successful companies and how great their CEOs are, this book looks at bad CEOs in the media industry. In fact, the authors argue that most media company CEOs are bad. The authors do not mind criticising specific executive as well as McKinsey. That is something rare. The last year of data in the book is 2008, so writing in 2016 the book is certainly not up to date. Still a lot of the writing is still valid, even though many of the excesses of earlier decades have disappeared. If you are interested in the industry this is a good starting point.
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Format: Hardcover
"The Curse of the Mogul" provides a clear, evidence-based approach to analyzing and understanding effective (and ineffective) media strategies. The book has profound implications with respect to how corporate executives of media companies should think about organic investment and M&A initiatives, how sector investors should evaluate sustainable barriers to enty, and how advisors could more effectively counsel their media clients regarding the defense and expansion of competitive advantages. Real stories, real companies and real names are brilliantly used to illustrate provactive viewpoints throughout this most engaging read.
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Format: Hardcover
With a pending merger between NBC & Comcast, Knee/Greenwald/Seave's book is remarkably relevant for investors, analysts, would-be moguls and those interested in any and all aspects of the media industry. "The Curse of the Mogul" clearly outlines the common pitfalls of media conglomerates (ones that are consistently repeated today) and offers insightful alternatives for a healthier, more profitable industry. I can't image why any media company operating today would not require their executives and business leaders to read this book.

Aside from the business acumen offered in "The Curse of the Mogul", it's a very entertaining read! The authors write with a sharp wit and dry-humor, making the 300-or-so pages a surprisingly quick and enjoyable read.

If the media industry interests you (and judging by the fact that you are on Amazon.com, that is likely the case), I suggest you check out this book.
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Format: Hardcover
The curse of mogul is a fascinating research work on the media industry. Mr. Knee and Mr. Greenwald were able to dissect the media industry and discuss important topics such as the difference between perceived competitive advantages vs. real competitive advantages, areas in which you can find better investments in the media landscape as well as the internet impact on eroding once dominant organizations advantages.

The authors fascinating facts finding efforts, significant depth of evaluating competitive advantages and the landscape of many media companies as well as numerous examples of the impact of changes, will enable the reader to have a framework to use to overcome the "pixie dust" spread by the moguls and discover the true value of a media company as a long term investment. Highly recommended for all who wish to learn and invest in the media industry.

Amir Avitzur
Author of "Why do we sell low and buy high? The guide you must read BEFORE you invest"
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Format: Hardcover
Knee, Greenwald and Seave have done an excellent job in this book of delving into the fundamental flaws in the management strategies for many of the major media companies in the past few decades. Most importantly, they are able to evaluate not just consumer media markets but enterprise content markets as well to show how the problems are truly universal. Put simply, the self-congratulatory posturing of many media "moguls" who insist on ignoring the basics of economics and sound business management in pursuit of dominance and scale for its own end, regardless of its effectiveness in returning value to the marketplace. It also does a brilliant job of dissecting key flaws in many companies' technology strategies, showing where companies failed to perceive that their presumed technology advantages were in fact commoditized or wasted as companies pursued diversification and "synergies" that drew investment away from key platforms. If you're a professional in the content industry or a student of it, this will be an invaluable read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I picked up this book with great anticipation, as I work in the media business and have my own thoughts about "the moguls." Sadly, this book was ultimately nothing more than frustrating. It makes the very correct point that media mergers never fulfill the analysis done to justify them. This is well worn ground, and largely true for most mergers. Indeed, the core of this conclusion about media mergers is borrowed from a somewhat dated Wall St. analyst report, not written by any of the authors. While the skeptical tone about media business rationales for various acquisitions is very healthy, this book ultimately provides insufficient hard support for this skeptical tone. I came away feeling like the conclusions reached were likely correct, but that the analysis of the book really didn't support them. Ultimately, it seemed like the author's recommendation to the media moguls was to concede that they were not running growth businesses, should not be investing capital in growth that was unlikely to materialize, and instead should be raising their dividends and returning capital to shareholders. Something that would make the shareholders scream, as the value of their investments would plummet.
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