The gig: Making web-ready adver-television for Barry Diller’s IAC.
His résumé: The self-described “rock-star television executive” was plucked from a hot run producing The Office and The Biggest Loser (through his company Reveille) to become the co-chairman of NBC Universal Entertainment at 36, in 2007. But he wasn’t the revolutionary hit-maker he’d been signed to be, and NBC declined to renew his contract this summer. “I got an incredible MBA at General Electric,” he says jokingly, perhaps in a nod to the sense that, in a way, he got schooled.
His mission: To create “the industry’s first global platform that connects advertisers, distributors, and content creators early on in the development process,” according to IAC. Which means? “We’re basically breaking down all of the silos that currently exist between the advertising, creative infrastructure, and distribution platforms, and then building a new form of advertising network in coordination with the traditional and the new-media outlets,” he says, not really clarifying things. He’ll be based in L.A. but expects to have offices here too.
His challenges: He’ll remain with NBC until mid-September, overseeing the start of the fall season, in particular the launch of Jay Leno’s prime-time show, which he championed. Then it’s time to set aside the bluster and try to figure out what it means, practically, to respect the desires of advertisers who want “the ability to really be part of the cultural conversation, not just the advertising” while producing something people will actually want to enjoy, be it on Facebook or “an NBC-type broadcaster.” While Diller was an early investor in Reveille, IAC has indicated that the project could later have other investors. Silverman is officially undaunted. “To launch something new, but big, being backed by and in partnership with IAC,” he says, “is just awesome.”
The gig: The new head of the New York office of the SEC, he’ll be in charge of saving Wall Street (and the rest of us) from itself.
His résumé: Since 2003, he has been a partner at law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy. Before that, he spent nine years as a criminal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, during which time he became chief of the major-crimes unit. He oversaw the prosecution of money manager Alan Bond, who was sentenced to twelve years for stealing more than $6 million from his clients.
His mission: He was brought in by new SEC chairwoman Mary Schapiro under new enforcement director Robert Khuzami to clean up the beat. Under Khuzami, the agency is being redesigned to be less bureaucratic and more proactive. With the SEC facing criticism for its many failures (like overlooking Bernie Madoff), Canellos wants to use a “risk-based approach” to identify money-management firms that lack third-party oversight. As a former prosecutor, he’s familiar with enforcement tools Khuzami has newly instituted at the SEC, such as according leniency to cooperative parties like whistle-blowers, offering deferred prosecution agreements, and utilizing broader subpoena power.
His challenge: Avoiding “unnecessary overlap” between his office and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s. “It is an important goal of mine to ensure that we not just cooperate with one another in investigations but that we are not doing the same work,” he says. “Historically, what a lot of people refer to as cooperation is two regulators seeking the same information, seeking to question the same witnesses, and seeking similar remedies against the same parties. I think that can be a waste of resources.”
The gig: Running Merrill Lynch’s bummed-out bulls, as Bank of America’s head of global wealth management.
Her résumé: The former head of wealth management at Citigroup, she rose to chief financial officer in 2004, making her one of the most powerful women on Wall Street. Later, she reportedly feuded with CEO Vikram Pandit over whether the bank’s investors should be compensated for losses at two Citi-sponsored hedge funds that had tanked (she said they should), and was forced out. Her old boss Sanford Weill reportedly put in a good word for her to Bank of America’s chief marketing officer, Ann M. Finucane, with whom Weill and Krawcheck sit on the board of Carnegie Hall.
Her mission: Krawcheck was dubbed “the last honest analyst” by Fortune in 2002, when she was research director at Sanford C. Bernstein, and her job at Merrill is to restore client trust so that the herd can get back to thundering and making the bank money.
Her challenge: She joined the bank on the very same day it settled with the SEC over allegations that it had made false statements to shareholders regarding bonus-payout arrangements made during its acquisition of Merrill. The bank neither admitted nor denied the charges, but agreed to pay $33 million in penalties.
Robert Benmosche & Harvey Golub
The gig: The AIG repairmen.
Their résumés: Benmosche, the new president and CEO, was the CEO of MetLife for eight years, until 2006; he oversaw the company’s IPO and $11.5 billion acquisition of Traveler’s from Citigroup. Golub, the new chairman, was chairman and CEO of American Express from 1993 to 2001, during which time shares of the company increased sixfold. Earlier, he was a director at McKinsey & Co.
Their mission: Keep AIG afloat, save (or sell) the parts that work, rebrand what’s left, and repay the government, which owns nearly 80 percent of the company.
Their challenge: Benmosche needs to raise some serious cash, through IPOs and asset sales. But his position has already been complicated by the fact that AIG has been exploring the sale of some of its assets to MetLife, in which he remains a major shareholder. Golub’s in charge of disentangling AIG from the more than $80 billion in loans it must repay to the government.
The gig: Governor Paterson’s nominee to lead the MTA
His résumé: He spent twelve years at the MTA, climbing from financial analyst to CFO. He then served as managing director for finance and planning at Transport for London, where he helped win the city the 2012 Olympics.
His mission: Trying to keep the trains running on time while completing ventures like the Second Avenue subway and the 7-line extension. “We know what happened in the seventies, when we failed to maintain and renew the system,” he says. “And we certainly can’t go back to that. But adding on the new building projects at the same time is a tough task.”
His challenges: Explaining all of this to mutinous riders while juggling the numbers (and likely cutbacks). “One of the things that struck me upon returning and engaging in discussions with the governor’s office was the need to restore the MTA’s credibility,” Walder says. But first he has to be confirmed by the State Senate.
The gig: Hunting Madoffs-in-the-making as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
His résumé: As an assistant U.S. Attorney, he prosecuted the Colombo and Gambino crime families. As chief counsel for Senator Schumer on the Judiciary Committee, he helped lead the investigation into the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys by the Bush Justice Department, resulting in the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
His mission: Prosecuting white-collar criminals. One clue to his intentions: He promoted Raymond Lohier, who helped prosecute Marc Dreier, and Boyd Johnson, who previously headed the office’s public-corruption unit, which helped bring the case against the prostitution ring to which Eliot Spitzer was linked. “Preet is very much somebody from the Southern District and not from the executive part of Washington,” says Daniel Richman, a former assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District, now a professor at Columbia Law. “Having close ties to Senator Schumer gives him a degree of insulation from Washington that I think will promote the Southern District’s semi-autonomy in the future.”
His challenges: Deciding who was criminal and who was just stupid. “Certainly there’s this feeling out there that heavy-duty while-collar cases will be coming fast and furiously in the near future,” says Richman. Bharara will likely feel pressured to prosecute not just cases that, like Madoff’s, are instances of clear-cut criminal activity, but pursue ones in which the illegality of the indiscretions is harder to decipher. “Figuring out the extent to which—and there might not be any extent to which—Bear Stearns and Lehman were involved in illegal activities is something that the public expects the government to roll up its sleeves and get moving on,” Richman says. “Prosecutors have to look for criminal activity and at the very least be careful to distinguish between economic stupidity and recklessness and fraud.”