Gerald Levin

Sep 15, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Gerald Levin has been hailed as visionary and denigrated as a derelict executive. Born in Philadelphia in 1939 and trained as a lawyer, Mr. Levin joined Time Inc. in 1972 as head of programming for Home Box Office. His determination to distribute HBO via satellite helped jump-start the modern cable business.
He became president of HBO in 1973 and chairman three years later. Time Warner Inc. chose him as its chief operating officer in 1991 and one year later made him president and co-CEO.
Mr. Levin played a significant role in several of the largest media mergers in history. He helped negotiate the $14 billion marriage of Time and Warner Communications in the early 1990s and the merger of Time Warner with Turner Broadcasting half a decade later. His third media megadeal, the $185 billion combination of AOL with Time Warner in 2001, is seen as the consummate convergence flop. Within two years, Mr. Levin had been forced out.
Even in retirement, Mr. Levin has been unable to avoid controversy. He and fellow members of the compensation committee of the New York Stock Exchange took heat in August for approving a $140 million compensation package for NYSE chief Richard Grasso.