Back in 2022, only three years after its acquisition of Warner Media, AT&T decided to leave the entertainment business and announced plans to relinquish its ownership of the giant media company.
Just like many of his peers, Michael Kopelman has found that the business headlines of the past have everything and nothing to do with the ups and downs of his finance leadership career.Read More
Seven years earlier, he had been residing at the top of Time Warner’s investor relations function, collaborating daily with its senior leaders to carefully execute the company’s earnings communications process.
Kopelman tells us that things were pretty much business as usual until there came a knock on the door from an interested buyer.
“At that moment, the plan to stand alone was a better one that would result in a better outcome than pursuing a sale, as it was felt that there might be other acquirers down the line,” recalls Kopelman, who adds that Time Warner held an Investors’ Day event to more extensively brief its shareholders on the firmness of its plans to remain standalone.
“We really had to convince investors that what was being offered just wasn’t worth it—and that we could do better down the line,” explains Kopelman, who notes that his efforts to advance the standalone mantra ended up putting him in regular contact with different leaders across the company—including HBO’s leadership, which subsequently offered him a strategic planning leadership role.
“It ended up being a great opportunity for me, as I finally got to step away from Wall Street and into an operational role,” comments Kopelman.
Still, he was only a few months into his new position when AT&T announced plans to acquire Time Warner, which cut short his operational tenure with the media company.
“Well, as they say,” muses Kopelman, “‘The best laid plans … .’”
No doubt AT&T management couldn’t say it any better. –Jack Sweeney
Made Possible By
CFOTL: Tell us about Meow Wolf …what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Kopelman: The first thing to know about Meow Wolf is that it is a deeply creative place. It was started by artists who really wanted a vehicle for sharing their vision with the world. They ended up creating an interactive, immersive art experience. We do physical locations. We have three of them today—one in Santa Fe, one in Denver, and one in Vegas. We recently announced that we’re going to be opening our next one in Grapevine and Dallas–Fort Worth this summer, and we have more in the works. The thing that’s really unusual and special about the Meow Wolf experience is that the whole purpose is not only to have a vehicle for artists but also to inspire creativity and thoughtfulness in our visitors. So, when people come into our space, there’s an underlying narrative.Read More
There are different worlds that you can explore, but there’s no map. We don’t tell people how to experience it. What we want them to do is to start to realize that there can be many layers to everything. For example, if you go to Omega Mart, which is our location in Vegas, you start in a grocery store and what feels like a grocery store. But when you start inspecting a little bit more closely, you realize that it’s not quite what you think it is. That milk carton has a handle on it. That vegetable that you think is a root vegetable is really a plushy. Then you open the freezer door, and it’s not a freezer at all—it’s a door into another universe. You walk through, and you’re in a totally different space. You’re no longer in a grocery store.
The whole ethos is, How do we get people to think differently? To think differently about the world? How do we create this transformative journey for them to take them out of their day-to-day lives and get them to think about other possibilities? How do we inspire creativity and the art of thinking about the possible in the world? It’s just such a wonderful vision. Personally, when I walk into one of our spaces—when there’s that moment when I walk from one world into the next before going back—I always find that moment magical. The other thing for us, of course, is that you really get up close and personal with art.
As you can see, these are large-scale experiences, but they’re not mass-manufactured. These are hand-crafted experiences that are built by our artists, which you can see and feel. You can see their handiwork. You can see the hand of the artist, and you can really feel the connection. I also have had the privilege of going to our facility in Santa Fe and seeing all of the passion that is put into everything. I see the creativity, and then I see how this translates into our exhibits and our mission of spreading and inspiring creativity throughout the world.
Meow Wolf | www.meowwolf.com | Santa Fe, NM