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Not Great, Bob Bakish!

bob bakish
Bob Bakish was a different kind of yes-man, for a different kind of Redstone, happy to pretend the empire wasn’t just a dying television company in the eyes of investors. Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images
Matthew Belloni
April 30, 2024

The Palm Beach outpost of New York’s French restaurant Le Bilboquet is just off the appropriately named Worth Avenue, and if you’re there in the early evening these days, you may spot Philippe Dauman and his wife among the tanned and aged clientele. Dauman, of course, is the villainous former Viacom C.E.O., who extracted more than $500 million in compensation from a legacy media company he systematically managed into the ground, before he was finally exiled to Florida (and the Hamptons) in 2016—with a $72 million kiss-off. 

A personal lawyer and consigliere to the company’s controlling shareholder and architect, Sumner Redstone, Dauman steered Viacom as a cheerleading yes-man to his elderly boss, who was preoccupied by two young girlfriends and slowly losing his mind—a terrible combination made worse when Dauman eventually turned against the Redstones and attempted to hijack the entire enterprise from Sumner’s daughter, Shari. In the process, he manipulated earnings to juice the stock price (and his comp), mortgaging the future and remaining willfully blind to the digital transformation that would ultimately doom the company.