Edgar Bronfman Jr

Edgar Bronfman, Jr.

Edgar Miles Bronfman, Jr. (born May 16, 1955), formerly CEO of Seagram and vice-chairman of Vivendi Universal, has been CEO of Warner Music Group since 2004. He is the son of Edgar Miles Bronfman and the grandson of Samuel Bronfman, one of the wealthiest and most influential Jewish families in Canada.

The Bronfman family gained its fortunes through the Seagram Company, an alcohol distilling company, but Edgar Jr. ("Efer" to friends) has gained his reputation by expanding and later divesting ownership of the Seagram company, as well as for pursuing more creative activities as a Broadway and film producer and songwriter.

Early life

Edgar Jr. is the second of five children, and was indicated by his grandfather in 1971 as being suitable as the heir to the Seagram Company.

From his early days, Bronfman's interest in the arts was apparent. He was particularly active in school theatre, an interest his parents supported by donating to construct The Ann and Edgar Bronfman Theatre during a 1967 expansion at The Collegiate School, the prestigious private school in Manhattan which Edgar Jr. attended. Edgar Jr. and his classmates created a documentary film of the school that spawned the Collegiate Film Festival, an event that gained positive press in The Los Angeles Times and The Village Voice.

In the summer before his junior year in high school, Bronfman went to London to work on a feature film, arranged partly through his father's connections at MGM.

Education

Edgar Jr. was educated at The Collegiate School, a prep school in New York, but did not attend college.

Career

Bronfman proceeded to a brief career in entertainment in the 1970s as a film and Broadway producer. The summer before his final year of high school, in 1972, he was a credited producer on the film, The Blockhouse. Despite his inexperience, Bronfman's involvement was accepted because of his connections and access to financing. In return, he learned many of the tricks of the trade by watching his more experienced peers.

In 1973, Bronfman began a songwriting career under the pseudonyms Junior Miles and Sam Roman. He often collaborated with Bruce Roberts on songs like "Whisper in the Dark", which he gave to Dionne Warwick to record in thanks for introducing him to his first wife, Sherry.

His Efer Productions company was signed by Universal Studios in 1977 to a three-year movie production contract. He produced the unsuccessful film The Border, which starred Jack Nicholson.

In 1982, Bronfman returned to the Seagram Company, spending three months learning the ropes before moving to London to become managing director of Seagram Europe. In 1984, Bronfman returned to New York as President of the House of Seagram, the company's U.S. marketing division. By 1994 he became the Chief Executive Officer, where he began a move away from the traditional liquor business and into entertainment.

The first step in this diversification was the widely criticized sale of Seagram's stake in DuPont. In 1981, Edgar Bronfman, Sr., had sold Seagram's stake in Conoco to DuPont, in exchange for almost 25% of the chemical giant. This stake in DuPont, by 1995, represented about 70% of Seagram's total earnings. Nevertheless, Bronfman, Jr., acting as Seagram's CEO, approached DuPont about buying back its shares, a deal that DuPont wasted no time in closing.

With the proceeds of the $9 billion sale, Bronfman, Jr., went on an expansion into the entertainment business, in music through the acquisition of Polygram, and in film entertainment through MCA and Universal Pictures. However, the new entertainment conglomerate he created had a brief life, before needing a strategic partner. Bronfman, Jr., then led Seagram into a controversial all-stock acquisition by French conglomerate Vivendi in 2000. Bronfman, Jr., became chief of the new company, Vivendi Universal, but the Seagram company effectively lost control of its entertainment businesses. Meanwhile, the beverage division—the core of Seagram's business—was acquired by Pernod Ricard and Diageo. Seagram's for all intents and purposes ceased to exist.

In December 2001, Bronfman announced he was stepping down from an executive capacity at Vivendi Universal, but remaining as vice chair of the board.

On February 27, 2004, Bronfman finalized the acquisition of Warner Music Group and he has served as Chairman and CEO of the music company since that time.

In recent years, he has continued to dabble in songwriting and penned the hit song "To Love You More", which was recorded by Celine Dion, and Barbra Streisand's "If I Didn't Love You".

Bronfman Jr. is also a prominent philanthropist. He currently chairs the Board of Directors of Endeavor (nonprofit), an international development organization that finds and supports high-impact entrepreneurs in emerging markets.

Personal life

Against his father's wishes, Bronfman married his first wife, actress Sherri Brewer, in 1979 in New Orleans. The couple had three children together--Vanessa, Hannah, and Benjamin--before they divorced in 1991. In 1993, he married Clarissa Alcock, the daughter of Frank Alcock, a Venezuelan oil executive of British descent. They have three children.

Bronfman's son, who is known as Ben Brewer, is the guitar player and vocalist for the New York-based alternative rock band The Exit who have been on hiatus since the departure of Jeff Darosa, but are widely regarded as a hard-working touring group. The band has played over 500 shows in its career.

Music Piracy

Bronfman is a noted opponent of P2P technologies, and as CEO of Universal, helped lead the music industry's opposition to Napster, likening it to slavery and Soviet communism. In late 2006 in an interview with Reuters, Bronfman caused a stir by admitting that his children have pirated music. He claims to have punished the child, but wants the punishment to remain within the realm of the family. Lately, Bronfman may have revised his judgement. During the GSMA Mobile Asia Congress, he told the audience that mobile operators should not make the same mistakes that the music industry has :
We used to fool ourselves…We used to think our content was perfect just exactly as it was. We expected our business would remain blissfully unaffected even as the world of interactivity, constant connection and file sharing was exploding. And of course we were wrong. How were we wrong? By standing still or moving at a glacial pace, we inadvertently went to war with consumers by denying them what they wanted and could otherwise find and as a result of course, consumers won.

See also

References

  • 2004: The Icarus Factor: The Rise and Fall of Edgar Bronfman Jr. by Rod McQueen (ISBN 0-385-65995-4)
  • 2006: The Bronfmans: The Rise and Fall of the House of Seagram by Nicholas Faith (ISBN 0-312-33219-X)

External links

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