Gnomish billionaire CEO of the bankrupt Tribune Co. Sam Zell may give up control of his company to creditors. Is it too early to declare Zell the biggest failure of the "Death of Newspapers" era? No, let's just declare it!
Highlights of Sam Zell's tenure as America's most horrific newspaper company owner:
- Zell, who knows nothing about newspapers, buys the Tribune for $8 billion in 2007, at the very very last moment anybody could semi-plausibly argue that maybe, somehow, a newspaper company could do well again, one day. Good start.
- Everybody's kind of enthusiastic about this crazy bearded upstart, at first!
- Zell tells a journalist he employs: "Fuck you."
- Lee Abrams.
- Mid-2008: Things at the Tribune papers are going... not so well.
- Tribune Co's most coveted asset: Its parking lot.
- Zell sued by his own employees at the LA Times. Employee relations are...not so good.
- In December, Tribune goes bankrupt.
- And now, the reorganization plan indicates that Zell might be getting out of the game:
Bankruptcy experts said the plan's outline raises questions about whether the senior lender group would want to retain Zell and his management team or seek new leadership for the company. It also poses the question of whether Zell would want to stay without a large ongoing stake in the company.
Of course, Zell only put in a little bit of his own money to get control of Tribune; mostly it's owned by the employees. Who will really get screwed. He has that going for him.