“The road was not easy or clear” – deadline

AT&T CEO John Stankey, who decided last spring to turn WarnerMedia into a $ 43 billion merger with Discovery, sent a bouquet to WarnerMedia staff as soon as the deal was terminated.

In a memo to staff (read it in full below), Stankey praised the “significant work” accumulated by WarnerMedia in almost three years of AT&T ownership.

AT&T last year turned pay-TV operator DirectV into a new entity, a 30% owned private equity firm, TPG.

Here is the complete memo:

To my WarnerMedia colleagues,

As we work to finalize the combination of WarnerMedia and Discovery and launch Warner Bros. Discovery, I would like to share some thoughts with you.

In July 2018, I wrote to you:

We have a unique opportunity to truly lead the transformation that is taking place across media and entertainment, direct consumer distribution and technology. We are at a rare starting point where content and distribution directions and structures – which are central to how almost everyone on the planet interacts with society and the people around them – will take shape for decades to come.

Today, we can clearly see that you have created an extraordinary body of work that grew out of the moment I highlighted about four years ago. No doubt this is a work in progress, but your accomplishments are outstanding. The results and trajectory are clear. The three-story and proud entity made difficult choices and decided to collaborate and work together which was not the norm four years ago. While doing all the important work of conducting business in transition, you have come up with the best thing to offer each entity to build something new – something that creatives want to be a part of and consumers around the world have embraced. You have established a foundation that can carry forward a proud legacy and multi-storey brands for another decade with a wider and more compelling cultural impact than ever before.

You are congratulated and appreciated. The road was not easy or clear. I would especially like to thank Jason, and the entire WarnerMedia leadership, for leading this remarkable evolution in the most unprecedented period of time we have seen in companies, industries and the world. Those who are at the table really understand the adversities and challenges that had to be overcome in order to reach this moment. I’m glad to see the progress and success you’ve enjoyed, and I’m sure you’ll move on to this next chapter with more opportunities. I offer my sincere thanks.

I have always worked hard to live my life without regrets. I wish I could say I have none, but there are some. Shari was right that we should have a fourth child! I end this chapter with two of you – my frustration at not being with Ride for successfully completing this remarkable change and losing some of the regular interactions between professional relationships that I have so much enjoyed. My respect and gratitude to those with whom I have worked closely is enduring, and I will miss learning and solving problems with you. I will miss the wonderful behind-the-scenes work especially for developing the awesome stories and executions that come from your everyday emotions. Your friendship and support will always be remembered when it was not needed.

Arriving at this moment was one of the most difficult decisions of my life. I’m sure you won’t be surprised that it comes with anxiety, frustration and worry that the changes will trigger it. All things considered, I am confident we have set the right path. Over time, the combination of WarnerMedia and Discovery will lead to the emergence of a strong company and accelerate the already strong pace of innovation and change you have established. I want to enjoy the fruits of your labor as you build the future of WBD! Most of all, however, I will vigorously stand by and rejoice in your continued success in establishing one of the most beloved media brands around the world.

Warm greetings, thank you again, and best wishes to all of you.

John

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