Yes, they exist, but you may never have heard of them before. Coincidentally, Fortune and New York Times (NYSE: NYT) profile two of the most powerful behind-the-scene men in the Internet and media industry, within a week of each other.
-- Fortune profiles Bill Campbell, the former Columbia University football coach who is the most confidential advisor in Silicon Valley. As the story says, he is advisor to the likes of Google's (NSDQ: GOOG) Eric Schmidt, Apple's (NSDQ: AAPL) Steve Jobs, Kleiner Perkins's John Doerr, and many other movers and shakers in Silicon Valley. His influence on Schmidt and Google is particularly profound: Campbell has served as the secret glue helping bind Schmidt to founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, enabling them to make decisions together despite their sometimes radically different perspectives. He has helped mold a process by which the three work out issues privately, then come together as a united front behind the best choice, the story says. Recently Campbell has been spending time at YouTube meeting regularly with CEO Chad Hurley, and helping find a balance between keeping its own identity and adopting some of Google's methods. Meanwhile, at Apple, Campbell is not just a board member; he's also Jobs' friend, and the two take regular Sunday walks around the streets near their homes in Palo Alto, where Jobs says they discuss "the things that have got me concerned and things I haven't yet figured out."
-- Then NYT profiles a bit more visible media investor Vivi Nevo (and in pics recently because he got married to superstar Chinese actress Zhang Ziy, of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" fame). Nevo is said to be the largest individual shareholder of Time Warner, was once the largest private investor in Goldman Sachs, vacations on Rupert Murdoch's sailboat, and is the godfather of Lachlan Murdoch's son, as the story says. Nevo has parlayed a family inheritance it into a sizable fortune through investing in media and Internet companies, and innumerable connections in the media world. The story says for Time Warner, he was an advocate, when the Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) takeover battle erupted, of trying to assemble a three-way partnership among Yahoo, Microsoft's MSN and AOL (NYSE: TWX). He has small investments in about 25 startups, including stakes in Demand Media, a social networking company; CityVoter, a social site that allows city dwellers to post about things like where to eat and where to shop; online music site Buzznet; Spot Runner, an online advertising company; and the Internet video company Joost, the story cites sources.
By Rafat Ali