Inside John Malone’s World
John Malone has long been a different kind of mogul.
He hasn’t been interested in creating a single conglomerate of enormous scale, or building a
powerful media dynasty. Often, the billionaire deal maker is just as keen to sell as he is to buy.
As a pioneer of cable television, he has helped shape the media landscape and yet lately has
had little use for traditional media content.
Now 77, Malone remains the instrumental force behind 10 companies under the Liberty
umbrella that have a combined market value of $80 billion. In interviews, Malone and his
longtime chief lieutenant, Greg Maffei, 58, told Barron’s how they see the world of media and
telecommunications and how they value businesses. “As I get older, I’ve gotten more diversified personally,” Malone says. “It’s good to be diversified, given the technological changes that are driving changes in consumer behavior.”
The sheer number of Liberty entities—combined with often complex structures—can be
daunting to investors. Those who have taken the time to understand them have been
rewarded, however. Liberty Media, Malone’s main investment vehicle, took shape in 2006 and
is up about tenfold since then , adjusting for a dizzying series of transactions, including the
well-timed sale of DirecTV to AT&T in 2015.