There’s little question that 2020 will long be remembered as a year of crisis for the casino industry.
Commercial gaming revenues in the U.S. were down 79 percent during the second quarter when compared to Q2 2019, a fact that made IAC/Interactive’s August announcement that it was purchasing 12 percent of hospitality and gambling giant MGM all the more headline-grabbing.
“We think we found a once-in-a-decade opportunity to find a meaningful position in an iconic brand,” explains IAC/InterActive CFO Glenn Schiffman, who says IAC’s balance sheet remains flush with cash (more than $3 billion) after the recent spinoff of online dating site Match.com.
“We believe that Las Vegas will come roaring back, and this comes back to how IAC likes to invest: We like massive addressable markets with tailwinds from offline to online, and that’s what we see with gaming,” says Schiffman, who is no stranger to industries in crisis.
Back in September of 2008, Schiffman was head of investment banking for Lehman Brothers’ Asia-Pacific business when the firm filed for bankruptcy due to its part in the subprime mortgage crash.
Schiffman, along with other top Lehman partners, helped to manage the sale of Lehman’s Asian business to Nomura Securities.
“In times of crisis, you have to separate the urgent from the important because in a crisis everything appears urgent but not everything is important,” explains Schiffman, who says that he learned just how important being able to separate the two was when the clock was ticking in the wake of the Lehman bankruptcy and his team was seeking a resolution that would best serve Lehman’s Asia workforce. (Episode 440)
“We saved every single job in Asia—and that was 3,000 jobs, including my own,” comments Schiffman, who adds that the Lehman bankruptcy, among other things, revealed how during a time of crisis an individual’s character becomes more evident.
“Crisis doesn’t define character, crisis reveals character,” says Schiffman, who, after joining Nomura, went on to help establish and build the bank’s North American investment banking division. –Jack Sweeney