Lessons From Luminaries: Barry Diller and Bobby Kotick on Leadership, Media, and Entrepreneurship

Earlier this year, Village Global hosted a fireside chat featuring two of our luminary LPs who are also two of the most successful entrepreneurial executives of all time: Barry Diller and Bobby Kotick. Barry Diller is chairman of IAC and Expedia and Bobby Kotick is CEO of Activision Blizzard.

The fireside chat was moderated by Elizabeth Weil, managing partner at 137 Ventures, and a Village Global Network Leader.

They discussed how technology is changing the entertainment and gaming worlds, where the internet revolution will take us next, lessons on leadership, and much more.

After the event, they also each met with a small group of Village Global founders to share advice and lessons learned from their long and storied careers.

Among many other topics, they discussed:

What it takes to find a good leader.

Barry Diller explained how he finds out whether the people working for him have the ability to lead:

“The thing to do is to take people without experience and throw them in the water. Give them tasks they are not prepared for. They’ll drown for a while — I mean I did that for the first five to seven years of my life. I was utterly incompetent at what I was doing but somehow I had enough time, they didn’t pull the rug out from under me and I figured it out. Take people with energy and some sort of spark, throw them at a task, and see if they’ll figure it out or not.”

The time Steve Jobs insisted that Bobby Kotick drop out of college.


In 1983, Bobby Kotick, along with his college roommate, started a software company to create software for the Apple II. They intended to create a mouse and design a graphical user interface with a pointer, windows, and icons for the Apple II.

Bobby recounts meeting Steve Jobs:

“Steve heard about it and liked the demonstration and wanted us to make this software and the mouse for a new computer called the Apple IIGS.
Steve came to visit to see the software and he got really upset when he heard that I was still a college student. He told me that I had to quit college. I said I couldn’t because I had committed to my parents that I would stay in college.
He said ‘I will rip up your contract with Apple Computer if you don’t leave college tomorrow.’ And then he called me for a few days to make sure that I had actually left college.
So he forced me to leave college, which in hindsight didn’t work out so badly.”

The future of media

Barry Diller says that he no longer watches commercial network television. He points out that in contrast to television, with streaming services you can watch on your own schedule without being interrupted by “irritating advertisements.” He talks about the future of broadcast networks.

“I don’t know how you would go back, having experienced those advantages [of streaming services], which makes me think that broadcast networks that depend upon advertising, in the long term, are going to be advertising to people who can’t afford to buy your stuff, because everybody else with disposable income is going to go to the streaming services.”

Bobby Kotick mentions that he still watches a lot of movies in a theatre on a big screen, and Barry Diller offers his prediction for the future of movie theatres:

“We’re in this really radical change. Franchises, mega-Marvel movies, sequels, those are the only movies that work in theatres today in any mass way. Theatres are going to end up also being tech centres. It will be the premium spot for spectacle movies but other than that, movie theatres are probably over.

Check out all the photos from the event here.

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