Interview Transcript

If we just take MediaMonks, what would you say their competitive advantage would be in winning new content business?

It sounds a bit glib, but it all stems from faster, better, cheaper. The alternative way of describing it is speed, quality, value. Faster, as I said, is about agility; better is about understanding. It’s worth running through the companies; Google, Facebook, Amazon, Tencent, Alibaba, TikTok – to anywhere it goes – Apple and Microsoft, Adobe, Oracle, Salesforce, IBM, SAP, Twitter, Snap, Pinterest, LG, Samsung, Spotify, Netflix.

Can’t the holding companies win some of this business?

They do. I was just talking, in Australia, where there were two big Adobe driven pitches. We didn’t pitch one of them; we weren’t invited on one of them. On the other one, we won. Who did we win against? The incumbent was AXQA. They can, I’m sure, and they will try to. As I say, their organization gets in their way.

When looking at driving a real competitive advantage, as a network, over the next five to 10 years, as S4, what do you really focus on?

Those four things. Focus purely on digital. It’s half the business at the moment and it will be 70% within a few years. Understanding the holy trinity model of faster, better, cheaper. And the unitary structure. Those are the four things and that’s what applies to our content practice around MediaMonks and our data and digital media practice, around MightyHive.

How do you think about allocating the cash flow from the core business?

Our structure remains the same. We don’t pay a dividend at the moment and we’ve said that we’ll probably pay a nominal dividend in due course, but in terms of the rates of return that we get in the capital allocation process, where can you get the better return? The better return is by investing in our business. For example, our Epic investment, our Fortnite investment in India, in the new technologies; our production centers in Buenos Aires or in New Delhi or Kazakhstan or the Ukraine or wherever it happens to be. Those are data and analytics centers. Obviously, also investing in M&A. The structures of our deals remain the same; basically, half shares, half cash. No earn outs because that creates fragmentation. That’s part of the problem. WPP will probably go off and buy companies and they’ll have people who want to sell, which is a key thing. You don’t want people to sell; you want people to buy in or sell into your company and you want people to continue. It’s no good having companies drop dead after the earn outs.

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