Doug Morris, Old Person

By JoCo November 27, 2007

There’s a profile of Doug Morris, CEO of Universal in December’s Wired. You may read the summary of it on the New York Magazine blog if you’re short on time, especially since they have already pulled the best quote wherein Morris explains why the music industry didn’t just build their own digital distribution network when Napster first popped up and scared everyone:

“There’s no one in the record industry that’s a technologist,” Morris explains. “That’s a misconception writers make all the time, that the record industry missed this. They didn’t. They just didn’t know what to do. It’s like if you were suddenly asked to operate on your dog to remove his kidney. What would you do?”

Personally, I would hire a vet. But to Morris, even that wasn’t an option. “We didn’t know who to hire,” he says, becoming more agitated. “I wouldn’t be able to recognize a good technology person — anyone with a good bullshit story would have gotten past me.”

Wow. This is a CEO? At a record label, now? It’s really true, the reason the labels are so lost in this new world is because they are run by people who are on the other side of the digital divide. They can’t even figure out how to HIRE someone to help them work these newfangled “computing machines.” I bet Doug Morris still has trouble dragging and dropping.


Glenn Peters says

I am not surprised. It's not even an age thing. We had a CEO at a company I was at years back that issued an edict that no one can link to our company's web site from our personal websites.

He went on to be VP at Real.

Unfrozen Caveman CEO says

All your modern Internets frighten and confuse me! I don't understand the voices that sing to me from inside this magical box on my mahogany desk in my corner office. I think there must be tiny troubadours trapped inside it! I don't know. Because I'm a caveman -- that's the way I think...

COD says

You missed the even better quote where he makes an analogy to how would Coca-Cola survive if if poured freely from faucets. Apparently he isn't familiar with the multi-billion dollar bottled water industry.

Pete says

Denholm: I'm gonna put you in I.T. because you said on your CV you have a lot of experience with computers.
Jen: I did say that on my CV, yes. I have a lot of experience with the whole computer thing you know, emails, sending emails, receiving emails, deleting emails, I could go on.
Denholm: Do.
Jen: The web. Using a mouse, mices, using mice. Clicking, double clicking. The computer screen, of course. The keyboard. The... bit that goes on the floor down there.
Denholm: The hard drive.
Jen: Correct.

Mikey says

Seriously? Record labels don't have email and networks and phones and COM-PEW-TORS like the other Hu-man corporations? They don't have websites? Nobody runs their blackberry servers? It never occurs to a CEO to consult with his CIO/IT department to make a hiring decision like this?

randal says

I call bullshit. Claiming that a company like UMG or Sony couldn't come up with a digital distribution network is a load of crap--they just decided that they'd rather file thousands of lawsuits instead.

To put it another way, Vivendi also distributes World of Warcraft, and that's certainly making money hand over fist.

john darc says

What about Peter Rojas of Engadget and his record label, appropriately named RCRD LBL? so Web 2.0, and he'd know what he was doing.

Horace Rumpole says

I envision him barking commands into his mouse like Scotty in Star Trek IV.

Gina says

Check out that forehead! Dude looks like a Klingon.

Paul says

"I bet Doug Morris still has trouble dragging and dropping." Hell, at MY age, about all I CAN do is drag and drop. So to speak.

M_pony says

Gee, sorry Doug. How's the weather in Plato's Cave?

Syphro says

What about Time Warner's Gametap? Thats a great digital distribution run on a subscription based model that gives you unlimited access to all their games as long as you keep paying the subscription.
They can't do that for music as well?

Rich says

I don't see why we need any of this. Everyone knows Rock reached perfection in 1974. :-)

Pete says

While this is all probably true enough, it still doesn't get any sympathy from me. It is every business's own responsibility to watch for changes in technology, the market, public opinion, ANYTHING that might impact your business model. They were caught asleep at the wheel, failing to navigate through an emerging new use of their product. When there's a demand for something, and nobody supplies it, people start making it themselves. They also start stealing it. Not saying that makes it right, but you have to anticipate this effect regardless.

@Syphro: This is how Napster and Rhapsody and similar services now work. You pay a monthly fee and download anything you like. If you stop paying your monthly fee, you lose access to everything you've already downloaded.

Shruti says

Yikes. There are enough people on the other side of the digital divide; guys like this don't need to add to that by remaining willfully ignorant. Good grief.

manstraw says

does it take a genius to hire the guy that scares you the most?

iii says

>>“I wouldn’t be able to recognize a good technology person — anyone with a good bullshit story would have gotten past me.”

with that line, he's a good 90% ahead of most of the CEOs out there.

jacob says

Dragging and dropping? What's all this then? I checked on the google but nothing came up.

Lindsay says

This really, really defies... well, I don't know exactly what it defies. Belief? Logic? Common sense? Faith in humanity? It is simultaneously terrifying and mildly amusing that people that idiotic are (technically) running large companies. Anyone who has been *alive* long enough to become CEO of a large company should have a lot more of a clue than that. I thought the ability to find things out for oneself came naturally with things like *living* and *having a brain*. Sheesh.

JP says

What most companies do is just buy the market leader that is doing what you want to do.


He could have talked to his grand kid and found out how to download Bobby Darren records and figured it out from there.


they all could have stuck there heads somewhere and pretended that it would all go away. :)

ouija repair says

Sounds like his biggest problem is that he'd been an executive so long that he didn't trust anybody.

James says

He sounds like chicken little, the sky is falling but I can't do anything about it!

gex says

Gee, on the one hand, we get CEO's arguing that they deserve the big bucks because they guide their businesses through the business jungle, having to deal with the changing competitive landscape, changing technology, and changing consumer demands.

On the other hand, we get this guy, who apparently is proud to loudly admit he's too scared to even try to do the work he's getting the big money for.

How pathetic.

goatchowder says

I think this song was written about him:

The title, "Gubbar med Bluetooth headset" means, "Old Man with a Bluetooth Headset".

It fits Morris perfectly.

Raj says

To all the nitpickers and naysayers, if you're so smart and he's so dumb, whom would you have had him hire back then? Seriously. Put yourself in his shoes, WITHOUT the benefit of hindsight to guide you.

Jeremy in Idaho says

Can't... stop... laughing... to type.
Disregard the luddites!

JayPee says

No CEO is this retarded. This guy is just a liar and making excuses for his own poor decisions.