Top MSO executives who worked closely with former AT&T
Broadband & Internet Services CEO Leo J. Hindery Jr. over the years and cut deals with
him recently called his departure a sad day for cable.
"I think the industry is losing a great leader -- one
who has helped to transform this industry from a mom-and-pop video business to the
telecommunications 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 of
money in the time he was in the cable industry," he said. "I'm not sure
that he would work for the rest of his life. I know Leo is one of the hardest-working
people I have met in my life. After a while, perhaps you get tired of it."
Bresnan Communications president Bill Bresnan -- who was
honored 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, his
knowledge and his ability to lead. And I think we all owe him a tremendous debt of
Cable executives understood that Hindery wasn't suited
to being a senior executive in a stratified company. "He's very entrepreneurial
-- he really likes running his own show," Multimedia Cablevision Inc. president
Michael Burrus said. "I know he cares for [AT&T Corp. chairman C.] Michael
Armstrong 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 he
wasn't surprised that Hindery might have wanted to step back. "Clearly, he had
worked awful hard and long, and I know he paid for it in family time immensely," he
What's unique about Hindery? "He doesn't
waste a lot of words on the irrelevant. He goes right to the heart of the matter and
brings personal value to every position he takes," Might added.
Hindery's reputation was chiefly one of a sure-footed
dealmaker who helped to change the old perception of Tele-Communications Inc. as a company
that wouldn't leave a nickel on the table. He was able to revive many long-standing
deal talks by a willingness to compromise.
But he was more than a trader, some said. "Leo has
been in this business for several years, and he had very strong operations people around
him. I would not make the mistake of assuming Leo was just a dealmaker," Willner
said. "That is one of the great fallacies that I've heard mentioned before, and
it's just not true. Trust me on that."
Cox Communications Inc. CEO Jim Robbins said in a prepared
statement: "Leo's enduring vision for our industry has helped to position cable
as the best wire for bringing advanced communications services to the consumer. His
company's consolidation and clustering strategies have helped to spur faster
deployment of broadband services, and his commitment to bringing diversity in cable's
work force is among the many progressive steps Leo has taken for cable."
Later, in a brief interview, Robbins added: "I worked
very closely with Leo, and I'm saddened at this from an industry perspective. He
stood for a great many things in this industry, and I'm sorry that things
haven't worked out."
National Cable Television Association president and CEO
Robert Sachs agreed that there was more to Hindery.
In a prepared statement, Sachs said, "Leo's
dealmaking acumen is matched only by his strong personal commitment to diversity in the
work force and his leadership in championing those who have been victimized by
discrimination. Leo will be missed as an active member of the executive committee and
board of directors of the NCTA, and we wish him all the best in his next endeavor."