Ted Turner’s Autobiography

Lately I’ve been on an autobiography kick reading four in the past couple months. I went from Richard Branson, to Tony Hsieh, to Andre Agassi, and I’m about to finish Ted Turner’s autobiography. Ted does a great job telling stories about his companies, sailing, family, and everything in between.

From a business perspective, Ted’s stories really capture the growth and dynamism of the TV, cable, and entertainment industry. Here are a few of my takeaways:

  • Ted was constantly pushing his business to the limit financially and several times almost lost control of the company
  • Leverage (debt) using junk bonds made many of his acquisitions possible
  • His biggest regret was having to raise money after an acquisition he couldn’t afford, resulting in new board members that had veto power in his business (he still had a majority stake but their preferred shares could block certain transactions)
  • He had the idea for CNN several years before he launched it, and didn’t do it right away because he thought one of the big networks would do it, but they didn’t
  • Big ideas, some of which were failures, were a trademark of Ted, and he kept pushing the envelope with everything he did

The book is a great read and I’d recommend it, especially for Atlantans as it gives some good history of the city.

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