The Operator: Joe Ianniello Carves Post-CBS Path With Media SPAC

·2 min read

Joe Ianniello hopes to take advantage of M&A shakeups and technological disruption in media as he launches his a media-focused SPAC with a number of fellow CBS Corp. veterans.

On the latest episode of Variety’s podcast “Strictly Business,” the former chief operating officer and CEO of CBS sees his next move as partnering with former peers in Big Media to acquire and help manage assets that may no longer be top priority for a large conglomerate, but are still big businesses.

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Ianniello emphasizes that Argus is not looking to buy and flip assets. The team he brought together to run Argus is ready to operate existing businesses or help advise young companies on how to run as public entities.

“What investors really want — they want focus when they’re investing in a company. They want to know how the management team is prioritizing, how they allocate capital,” Ianniello said. “That’s going to have investors pushing and saying, ‘Well, why are you in this business? Or why are you in that business?”

Ianniello sees “fantastic businesses” being neglected within media giants that are now reorganizing and reallocating resources to build direct-to-consumer streaming platforms. He thinks he has an irresistible offer for those in the C-seats he used to occupy: Sell or spin off a big piece of a mature business and let his team at Argus run it with relentless focus.

It’s an intriguing vision of the near future for media, if he can pull it off. Ianniello and his CBS colleagues considered their options early last year and decided to take a swing at launching a startup that would have the benefit of a seasoned group of executives who know the industry and know how to work together.

“I would not be able to put this group together 12 months from now,” Ianniello said.

“Strictly Business” is Variety’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of media and entertainment. New episodes debut every Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

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