Top MSO executives who worked closely with former AT&TBroadband & Internet Services CEO Leo J. Hindery Jr. over the years and cut deals withhim recently called his departure a sad day for cable.
"I think the industry is losing a great leader -- onewho has helped to transform this industry from a mom-and-pop video business to thetelecommunications powerhouse that we're becoming," Insight Communications Co.Inc. president Michael Willner said.
Willner added that he was surprised by the announcement,but he could understand why Hindery would want to move on. "Leo has made a lot ofmoney in the time he was in the cable industry," he said. "I'm not surethat he would work for the rest of his life. I know Leo is one of the hardest-workingpeople I have met in my life. After a while, perhaps you get tired of it."
Bresnan Communications president Bill Bresnan -- who washonored by Hindery at the Walter Kaitz Foundation dinner last month -- said he was"terribly sorry to see him leave. I value his judgement, his intelligence, hisknowledge and his ability to lead. And I think we all owe him a tremendous debt ofgratitude."
Cable executives understood that Hindery wasn't suitedto being a senior executive in a stratified company. "He's very entrepreneurial-- he really likes running his own show," Multimedia Cablevision Inc. presidentMichael Burrus said. "I know he cares for [AT&T Corp. chairman C.] MichaelArmstrong and AT&T, but it's a different culture. At this point in his career,Leo has to do what makes him happy."
Cable One Inc. president and CEO Tom Might said hewasn't surprised that Hindery might have wanted to step back. "Clearly, he hadworked awful hard and long, and I know he paid for it in family time immensely," hesaid.
What's unique about Hindery? "He doesn'twaste a lot of words on the irrelevant. He goes right to the heart of the matter andbrings personal value to every position he takes," Might added.
Hindery's reputation was chiefly one of a sure-footeddealmaker who helped to change the old perception of Tele-Communications Inc. as a companythat wouldn't leave a nickel on the table. He was able to revive many long-standingdeal talks by a willingness to compromise.
But he was more than a trader, some said. "Leo hasbeen in this business for several years, and he had very strong operations people aroundhim. I would not make the mistake of assuming Leo was just a dealmaker," Willnersaid. "That is one of the great fallacies that I've heard mentioned before, andit's just not true. Trust me on that."
Cox Communications Inc. CEO Jim Robbins said in a preparedstatement: "Leo's enduring vision for our industry has helped to position cableas the best wire for bringing advanced communications services to the consumer. Hiscompany's consolidation and clustering strategies have helped to spur fasterdeployment of broadband services, and his commitment to bringing diversity in cable'swork force is among the many progressive steps Leo has taken for cable."
Later, in a brief interview, Robbins added: "I workedvery closely with Leo, and I'm saddened at this from an industry perspective. Hestood for a great many things in this industry, and I'm sorry that thingshaven't worked out."
National Cable Television Association president and CEORobert Sachs agreed that there was more to Hindery.
In a prepared statement, Sachs said, "Leo'sdealmaking acumen is matched only by his strong personal commitment to diversity in thework force and his leadership in championing those who have been victimized bydiscrimination. Leo will be missed as an active member of the executive committee andboard of directors of the NCTA, and we wish him all the best in his next endeavor."