Barnes door open

Tickemaster exec named CEO as Rosen exits

HOLLYWOOD — Ticketmaster has upped Terry Barnes to CEO of the ticketing titan’s operating subsidiary, Ticketmaster Corp. The ascension sets the stage for the exit of Fred Rosen, the firm’s founder whose departure had been anticipated since Barry Diller’s Home Shopping Network bought a majority stake in the company last year.

Following Rosen’s exit, which is anticipated to occur late next month when the HSN/USA transaction closes, Barnes will assume Rosen’s title of CEO of Ticketmaster Group. (Diller has since purchased USA Networks and renamed the company USA Inc.)

Cobuzzi upped

In addition to Barnes, Gene Cobuzzi has been upped to chief operating officer of the subsid, with a bump to chief operating officer of Ticketmaster Group after the Rosen ankling.

Diller, to whom Rosen began reporting to last year, said the nods transferring leadership of the ticketer to long-term execs “speaks to issues of continuity far louder than any statements we could make about our respect for the historical performance of the company and its ability to compete in the future.” Both Barnes and Cobuzzi will report to USA execs charged with overseeing the ticketing titan.

Team approach

Industry insiders noted the team approach bodes well for a smooth transition.

Barnes is known for his tight links with Ticketmaster clients and solid industry relationships throughout all levels of execs and talent in the live entertainment business. Cobuzzi is a savvy dealmaker with a strong business background in the complexities of the ticketing industry.

“I am thrilled to play an integral role in Ticketmaster’s next chapter as part of USA Networks,” said Barnes, who joined the ticketer in 1983 and most recently held the title of exec veep of Ticketmaster.

Though the nods ensure there will not be any interruptions in Ticketmaster’s growth, the power shift essentially makes Rosen a lame-duck chieftain.

Ticket monopoly

Few chief execs have attracted the ire of regulators, rock bands and consumers, all of whom have insisted that Ticketmaster was a monopoly and gouged ticketbuyers with exorbitant service charges that were added to the cost of ducats to their favorite shows.

When Rosen took control of Ticketmaster in 1982, the company had 25 employees and a negative net worth.

Investor response then was tepid, as Ticketmaster competed with then-industry leader Ticketron.

But Rosen turned Ticketmaster, which sells more than 70 million tickets annually and is worth more than $700 million, into the biggest ticketing company in the world. (In 1991 Rosen took over a faltering Ticketron.)

Rosen built the company, in part, by capitalizing on Ticketmaster’s proprietary ticket distribution technology and a strong economic model for the ticketing business.

His long-term, exclusive pacts with the sheds, arenas, theaters and stadiums where live events are held froze out competitors and helped make Ticketmaster the dominant force in ticketing the $2 billion-per-year live entertainment industry.

“Terry and Gene’s years of experience and hands-on knowledge of Ticketmaster provide the synergy and unique vitality to take the company into the next millennium,” said Rosen.