THE DEALMAKER: Serving as a top entertainment corporate attorney is akin to being a skilled negotiator brokering a contract between a professional sports team and star athlete. The goal: Make everyone feel like they’re coming out ahead.
Ruth Fisher of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher understands the analogy.
“A good deal is one where you want everyone to feel like they won,” she explains. “The truth is nobody wins everything, but the key to negotiation is that they’re going to walk away feeling OK.”
Fisher’s most recent accomplishment was negotiating the merger of Vivendi Games and Activision, which created the newly titled Activision Blizzard — worth a staggering $22 billion in market cap.
Fisher says the games business continues to flourish because it’s a highly valued cultural export, hasn’t had to deal with much piracy issues and is difficult to duplicate.
“Wall Street gets excited that the margins are healthy, and companies tend to be able to do better than in the traditional film and television business,” she says.
KEY DEALS: The merger of Activision and Vivendi Games; the partnering of Warner Music Group and the music of Frank Sinatra, so his body of work would be under a single entity.
DEALMAKER DOS: “You have to be flexible and client-oriented. Always be there for your client.”
DEALMAKER DON’TS: “It never pays to be an asshole. Most people know what goes around comes around.”
TOP DEALMAKERS ENCOUNTERED: “All the guys at Ziffren. We see all of them at work. They’re terrific and visionary.”