THANK YOU, BARRY: The organization New York Women in Communications fetes the most accomplished women in their field every year with the Matrix Awards, but this year Barry Diller finally came close to scoring one of the prized medallions from Tiffany’s. The chairman of InterActiveCorp got three on-stage citations from honorees Mindy Grossman, whom Diller hired to run HSN; Bonnie Hammer, his one-time underling when she ran the USA Network, and Kara Swisher, who the crowd at the Waldorf-Astoria on Monday gathered has known Diller socially and professionally for years.
Diller, sporting tinted shades from the dais, presented the award to Swisher, a reporter and editor at the blog AllThingsD where she covers the behemoths of the technology world, including IAC.
This story first appeared in the April 23, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“I asked for Barry specifically. I know you know him as a socialite and media mogul and everything else, but he’s actually a nerd. I met him 20 years ago when I came to his office. He was one of the few people in Hollywood who really was interested in the Internet and didn’t run screaming from it,” she said. Swisher also saluted Martha Stewart, another “nerd” who was sitting at a table directly across from the podium. Arianna Huffington, at the same table, got no such mention.
Diller, while introducing Swisher, was uncharacteristically effusive with his praise, describing her as “the leading and most influential reporter on the wild ride of the Internet,” and concluded he wouldn’t be surprised to see her as the second woman president. He also described her as an “equal-opportunity terrifier.”
Grossman, receiving her award, recounted how Diller recruited her to run HSN. She had no retail experience but she still met with him, she reasoned, because, “Who turns down lunch with Barry Diller?”
Each of the women on stage — other recipients included Cosmopolitan editor in chief Joanna Coles, Bank of America executive Anne Finucane, IPG Mediabrands chief executive officer Jacki Kelley and actress Audra McDonald, who was introduced by New York mayoral candidate Christine Quinn — were honored for the highest of accomplishments in their respective fields. Hammer, who was introduced by Ryan Seacrest, oversees the E Entertainment network and Bravo, among others, as part of her ample portfolio, and generates billions of dollars in revenue for NBC Universal, Seacrest said.
Coles, who last September was bumped up from Marie Claire to her new post, said the award represented a milestone in her career. Magazine editors have a life cycle that can be broken down into four stages, she explained, using herself, naturally, as an example.
“One, ‘Who is Joanna Coles?’ Two, ‘Get me Joanna Coles.’ Three, ‘Get me the new Joanna Coles.’ And four, ‘Who the [expletive] is Joanna Coles?’” With the award, she said, she had moved from stage two to stage three.