Larry Smith, the former co-chief financial officer at Comcast Corp. during a period when the company rose to leadership in the cable industry, died on Tuesday (April 28) at the age of 67, the company said. The cause of death was not immediately released.
In a note to employees today, Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said Smith, who retired in 2006, "helped guide Comcast for nearly 18 years as our Co-Chief Financial Officer. But for those of us lucky enough to have spent time with him, we knew Larry as so much more: gentle, friendly, fun, irreverent, curious, not afraid to try, deeply involved in his church, humble, active in his community, incredible family man, grandfather-extraordinaire, and most of all, loving partner of Christine, whom he had known and loved since grade school. Comcast rose from a small regional company to the industry leader in cable television that we are today in part due to Larry's creativity, strength, and brains. His integrity and partnership with John Alchin, Co-CFO with Larry, helped maintain and improve the incredible financial culture of Comcast."
Roberts added: "Larry was unique and a role model for everyone on how to enjoy all that life offers. His time on earth seems way too short, and we are so saddened today. On behalf of Ralph, Suzanne, Aileen, and all of the Comcast family, we grieve the loss of our wonderful friend Larry, along with his loving wife Christine and his children, grandchildren and all his friends. Rest in peace, Larry. We loved you so much."
A 1999 profile in the Philadelphia Inquirer, published when Comcast had made an agreement to buy the former cable company MediaOne, called Smith low key and deliberative and "the closer on Comcast's largest deals," which at that time included the sale of Comcast Cellular to SBC. When he joined, Comcast had just 1.3 million subscribers, and on Smith's first day on the job, in 1987, the company announced a deal to buy Storer Cable, the story noted. AT&T eventually outbid Comcast for MediaOne, but Comcast walked away with a deal to buy 2 million cable subscribers from AT&T.
In 2003, after Comcast agreed to buy all of AT&T Broadband, he reminisced to Multichannel News about the company's creative dealmaking over the years, notably the way it acquired Jones Intercable after buying the 37% of that cable company that had been held by Bell Canada. "It [the Jones deal] was probably one of our finer moments," Smith said. "In terms of the technical and all the moving parts and all the different things that could happen and how we worked it out and thought it through. Sometimes the small deals are more intricate, more complicated, than the big deals."