21st Century Fox chief operating officer James Murdoch has said strength of will and perseverance saw him through recent troubles at News Corp and said the experiences have made him a better leader.
Speaking at the Mipcom festival in Cannes, Murdoch was asked how the troubles and failure of recent years had affected him personally and what he had learned from them. Murdoch was named chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox earlier this year after resigning from his executive chairman role at News International in 2012 when news of the phone-hacking scandal broke.
“You go through periods where you’re more high profile than you would have chosen to be or when you’re being attacked for something, or the company can genuinely be in crisis driven by press or politics or failure,” he said.
“I think the main thing is you try to lead through those things. Colleagues were going through the same thing. I had to lead people through those things, and you have to enable them also to help you. It’s hard to do but you really find strength in the whole organisation when tested like that, and strength in individuals.
“One quality underrated is sheer perseverance, knowing that you can get through things. Perseverance is everything. Fundamentally it’s about will power and strength of will and character.”
Discussing the recent news of a merger between Endemol, Core and Shine in a deal between 21st Century Fox and Apollo Global, Murdoch said it was an “exciting opportunity”, but described the recent attempt to take over Time Warner as “opportunistic”.
“It was an opportunity, a moment in time where we thought the combination was attractive for both companies, but we don’t want to get into hostile takeovers and that kind of stuff, and durability became a challenge.
“It was an opportunistic thing to do and we decided we didn’t want to drag it out and wanted to move on. We have an exciting business growing.”
While Murdoch admitted that previous investments had been a “disaster”, he said the company wanted to create a culture of taking risks.
“As a company we’ve definitely made investments that have been challenging and we haven’t been able to make good, famously with Mysapce which was a total write off and a disaster.
“But we want to create a culture where it’s better to try, better to take the risk and aim high. Even if it’s wrong, it’s better to try. It’s easy in these businesses to say no to things and play it safe, but really greater successes come with risks, creatively and commercially.
“Large companies are really becoming incredibly risk averse and slow, possibly over analytical, which is possibly the wrong answer in a marketplace as dynamic as this one.”
Murdoch went on to say that the company’s investment in original content was “delaying some profit”, and said plans to bring European Sky businesses together would allow them to be a “faster innovator”.
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch recently split News Corp into two companies; the new News Corp holds the media empire’s publishing and newspaper businesses, including News UK, while 21st Century Fox holds the TV and film businesses.