Communications at the board level – both public and private – can be tricky. Show support for management – but sometimes a line is crossed. Knowing when to lend support, and knowing when to take a pause and assess the situation, is the key. Ozy Media’s board initially backed the company’s COO after news that he impersonated a YouTube executive during a Goldman Sachs pitch. But as the bizarre details of the story spread, the board quickly realized it needed to pause, assess, and respond with a tone that captured the moment. The story hit on Sunday, and by Tuesday, the board said the COO was put on leave and it was conducting an investigation – a stance that, if given the chance over again, would have spared the board heat over the span of two news cycles.
Companies are never out of the woods when it comes to activist campaigns. Willis Towers Watson is yet another example. ValueAct Capital’s investment into Willis years ago was a major catalyst to its merger with Towers Watson in 2016. The companies combined, ValueAct exited. Five years later, Willis Towers Watson now has Starboard Value and Elliott Management in its stock – the two most aggressive activist hedge funds as judged by Lazard’s quarterly data.
Have a great weekend,
Mike and Chris