Born in 1955, Edgar Bronfman Jr. is a card-carrying member of the Baby Boom generation. His work ethic and passion for business are undeniable. But his blinding drive towards becoming a major player in music will forever mark him as a failure. Even as he has grown Warner Music’s market share in the past couple of years, the business itself is almost extinct.
Fortune's Fool is filled with stories of flamboyant characters such as Ahmet Ertegun, Michael Ovitz, and Lyor Cohen, among many others. And the boardroom intrigues are laid out clearly, making them easy to understand. What emerges is a fascinating tale of good intentions, bad luck, and the affirmation of the corporate maxim “Eat or be eaten.”
It is hard to disagree with the author’s opinion that the Seagram’s family fortune would have been better served if Edgar had been content to be a billionaire playboy rather than company CEO. Still you have to admire the guy for how hard he tried. Once Napster let the genie out of the bottle with file-sharing though, there was no turning back.
Fortune’s Fool details the many mistakes the industry made in trying to respond to the Internet challenge. In the same way that Bill Gates and Microsoft took over the entire computer industry in one fell swoop with Windows, Steve Jobs and Apple have accomplished the same thing in music with iTunes.
It is a remarkable turn of events, and Fortune’s Fool lays out all of the intrigues in a very readable manner. This is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed.