Former CBS CEO William Paley is considered a genius of television, having helped make CBS the most-watched network each year from 1955 through 1976.
But not everything Paley touched turned to gold.
In 1964, he led a rare CBS foray outside of the television business, buying the New York Yankees for $11.2 million from Dan Topping and Del Webb. Under that pair, the Yankees had won 10 world championships. But by the mid-1960s, the team had grown old and its farm system had dried up.
The team Paley bought was not the team he thought he bought. After nine years of lackluster team performance, Paley sold the franchise to George Steinbrenner at a loss, for $10 million.
Under Steinbrenner, of course, the Yankees not only returned to prominence but are now worth roughly $1.2 billion.
The lesson: If you decide to expand outside your area of expertise, make sure you have an insider on your team.
—Adapted from Empire: William S. Paley and the Making of CBS, Lewis Paper, St. Martin's Press.
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