The Secret To The AT&T/Time Warner Deal

A PowerPoint that explains the deal is hidden somewhere deep in AT&T’s computer directory.

The presentation is filled with haughty declarations about the future of “premium content” and “entertainment experience.” Bar graphs of viewing habits and smartphone use are juxtaposed to appear related, and solid and dotted lines connect boxes as if to map a world in which companies don’t sell “things,” but rather “play” in “spaces.”

It was produced by McKinsey, Accenture, or some other consulting firm. Maybe it includes research from a technology analyst firm like Gartner or Forrester, and reflects conversations had at some highfalutin executive conference. It certainly shows potential revenue and, more importantly, cost-cutting benefits calculated by the financiers advising on the deal.

And it’s utterly divorced from reality.

Most observers aren’t sold on the deal, even after the CEOs of both companies went on a media charm offensive to explain it. They used all the right words — mentioning “innovation” over and over again — but, since you really needed to have seen those beautiful PowerPoint slides, and live in a world that neatly conforms to them, their argument was unconvincing.

The execs incessantly claimed that the deal wasn’t anti-competitive, since AT&T and Time Warner’s offerings are complementary, which was seen as a preemptive move to assuage the concerns of regulators.

This all but announced that becoming a monopoly of some kind was exactly the point…

Read the entire essay at Linkedin