GE’s Jeff Immelt stuck up for NBCU CEO Jeff Zucker today in this article on BusinessWeek.com: “He’s a smart, tough media executive who is not afraid of change at a very difficult time for the media industry,” Immelt told the magazine. “I think he’s as good as anyone running a media company today, and he’s only 42 years old.” (He’s actually 44, but who’s counting?)
And, as I pointed out yesterday, Zucker’s a survivor. While Ben Silverman and Universal Studio toppers Mark Shmuger and David Line have been shown the door, Zucker’s likely got himself a guaranteed job (at least for now) should the Comcast-NBCU deal go through, several publications are reporting.
Immelt says he likes Zucker’s tendency to hire from within - like promoting Jeff Gaspin to chairman of NBC Universal Television Entertainment after Silverman departed last July - because it reduces disruption. Zucker also has shown a willingness to aggressively cut costs when necessary - something that GE appreciates but probably gives employees ulcers.
It’s nice to have your boss’ seal of approval just as he’s getting ready to sell your company, but the approval Zucker really needs right now is that of Brian Roberts, and I’d love to know what he’s doing to get it. What Zucker knows about managing upward would be worth more than a Harvard MBA.