Cablefax The Magazine - July 2014 - 16

MSO LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Glenn Britt
Time Warner Cable
(Posthumous)
In many ways, the career of Glenn
Britt, who passed away June 11,
far too young at 65, mirrors the
arc of cable: its past, present and
future. He started in the business
when it was far from prestigious;
he helped push it to prominence;
and left as a longtime chairman
and CEO, with many of his decisions
proving prescient.
It seems strange to refer to
our MSO Lifetime Achievement
honoree as Mr. Britt. Everyone
at Time Warner Cable referred to
him as 'Glenn.' During my early
days editing internal publications
at TWC, I was informed the man
in charge preferred to appear in
print as Glenn.
That was one of the things about Glenn Britt, he had
almost no pretense. When he visited the offi ce in Washington,
he didn't travel with an entourage. His lunches with
the D.C. staff were very much like him: low-key, businesslike
and informative. Despite fi ne restaurants surrounding
the offi ce, he preferred sandwiches in the TWC conference
room overlooking the rooftops of Gallery Place, the tips
of the Capitol and Washington Monument visible on clear
days. The only concession made for Glenn was that instead
of paper plates, hard plastic was used.
And he sang for his supper-those staff lunches featured
rapid-fi re Q&A sessions. Questions ranged from regulation
to sports costs to new technology, everything was fair
game. He barely had time to digest his food. Still, he responded
with patience, erudition and class. Seeing how he
conducted himself and hearing him speak so well on a wide
range of issues made you proud to be a TWC employee
and gave you a lot of confi dence in the company.
For a self-described introvert, Glenn's professional
choices were bold. As a Dartmouth Business School
grad in 1972, he could have
moved into an established
industry, yet " from the start of
my career, I had always wanted
to get involved in a new, growing
business rather than a big,
established low-risk industry, " he
said during a September speech.
He joined prestigious Time, Inc.
but within two years became CFO
of Time's very un-prestigious
community antenna TV (CATV)
property Manhattan Cable, which
was selling New Yorkers clear
reception of broadcast signals.
But soon CATV started to
become more than reception;
programmers like HBO, another
Time property, and CNN were
beginning. C-SPAN, ESPN and
others followed. Glenn joined
HBO, running network and studio
operations. Eventually he went to Time's Denver-based
cable operation, became HBO's CFO and later Time's
CFO. While Glenn's resume might seem fi nance-heavy,
" I was always very involved in developing new products,
technology and imagining the future, " he said. That
colored the last decades of his career at TWC, which he
joined in 1990 as EVP.
The last 20-odd years have seen TWC launch a slew
of products that put it in the forefront of cable innovation.
" The entrepreneurial spirit that had led me to cable... was
still very much in me, " he said. Among those products was
Road Runner, the country's fi rst cable-delivered, high-speed
Internet service, launched in the mid-90s. At the same time,
TWC became the fi rst cable company to be honored with
a technical Emmy for its use of fi ber to transmit broadband
signals, which helped with the convergence of cable,
computers and telephones. TWC would add 7 more tech
Emmys to its trophy case during Glenn's tenure.
" This willingness to innovate, to re-invent, of being unafraid
in the pursuit of change for the good of the company
and the industry, this really is Glenn Britt's legacy, " said
Glenn's successor Rob Marcus.
One regret Glenn had was the failure of cable to be
When Glenn began as CEO in '01, TWC was a $6bln unit
of Time Warner; today it's a $21bln standalone company.
16
cablefaxmag.com
recognized as an innovator. Without cable's model there's
no Google, Netfl ix or Hulu, he used to say, noting that it's
partly cable's and his fault for not beating its chest enough.
It takes a humble man to make such an observation.
- Seth Arenstein
July 2014
Cablefax: The Magazine
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Cablefax The Magazine - July 2014

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