Cover as many bases as you can in order to maximize your likelihood of success.
Gregory R. Blatt was Chairman and CEO of Match Group from January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2017, and CEO of Tinder from December 2016 through December 2017. Prior to that Greg served as Executive Chairman of Match Group from December 2013 through December 2015, and Executive Chairman of Tinder from July 2015 through December 2016. Previously, Greg served as the CEO of IAC from December 2010 through December 2013. Prior to become IAC CEO, Greg was the CEO of IAC’s Match segment, and prior to that IAC’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel.
Before joining IAC in 2003, Greg was Executive Vice President, Business Affairs and General Counsel for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. He has also been an associate at Grubman Indursky & Schindler and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, two prominent New York law firms. He holds a Bachelor’s from Colgate University and a J.D. from Columbia Law School.
How did you get to be CEO of Match Group?
It was very unplanned. After college I took a few years off and lived in Telluride, Colorado, Budapest, Reims, France, and San Francisco bartending, painting houses and bussing tables. Then I went to law school because I thought I’d enjoy it, but not with any particular career plan in mind. Once there, I developed an interest in corporate law and finance and went to work at a big M & A firm in New York, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. But after a while I determined that wasn’t really for me. I was writing a novel and screen plays at the time so I went into entertainment law, thinking that working in that field could open doors for my creative interests. However, soon one of my primary clients, Martha Stewart, decided to take her newly formed company public and asked me to join her as her general counsel. It was too good an opportunity to pass up so I joined. I soon found that I loved being a general counsel far more than being an associate at a law firm, and embraced that new path. After four years I was offered the same job at IAC, which at the time had a market cap of $27 billion and was just a far bigger job than the one I had at Martha Stewart. So I did that for five years before I was offered an operating job running what was then our small dating business. I really believed at the time that online dating was just scratching the surface of its potential, so I jumped at it and then began building Match Group into what it is today. After a few years of that I was surprised when my boss, Barry Diller, offered me the job of running IAC as CEO. I took that, did that for three years, and then concluded I could create more value running Match and driving that toward its own IPO, which I then did for three years. So each step made sense in relation to the last step, but it would have been a very unforeseeable outcome at the beginning of the road.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I think face to face meetings are the most productive means of advancing a project or idea. I’m very interrogative. Question and dialogue and debate spur progress to me. I have also always tried to limit being overly scheduled, and having too many standing recurring meetings. I like to spend my time where the action is at that moment, and that tends to be pretty unforeseeable, so leaving as much free time and flexiblity as possible allows me to spend my time where I think I can be most productive at that time, not where I thought I would be most productive several weeks prior.
How do you bring ideas to life?
It’s cliched, but once you get high enough up in an organization you tend to enable ideas to be brought to life, but you don’t really bring them to life yourself. You make sure you have the right people. You make sure they’re facing the right direction. And you empower them to bring the ideas you’ve all agreed on to life. But once you’re at the top of an organization you’re not really the one bringing an idea to life in a bottom’s up sense.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The ability of video to bring people together across distances has excited me for years and I really see it coming to fruition now. Nothing beats being in the same room to forge relationships, but communicating by video is far closer to in-room communication than it is to an old fashioned phone call. As video communication continues to proliferate, I think it’s going to change everything.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
It’s cliched but I’m like my 5 year old daughter in that my response to almost every thing anyone tells me is to ask “why”? It’s really an annoying habit, I’m sure, but understanding what people do or how things work is extremely limited knowledge without understanding why people do the thing or why it works that way. Honestly, I think if you ask why enough you will realize that lots of things can be done better, and by pursuing that path you spur innovation.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Spend one more year in Telluride before going to law school.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I still miss my blackberry. The iPhone, as great as it is in many ways, is ruining the application of the English language.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Keep questioning what you’re doing until it is absolutely too late to make any changes, and then never question it again.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Remaining flexible. Not being too confident in your ability to see the future. Covering as many bases as you can in order to maximize your likelihood of success. When I first got into online dating I was very confident it would grow tremendously but I was not sure the one business we had would dominate, so we bought others, started others, and pursued multiple strategies within each business designed to capture as much of the audience as possible. Each business competed with each other rather than trying to control the market process, and collectively it led to fantastic growth over a multi-year period.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
We certainly started many businesses that ended up not going anywhere. But we tried to learn from each failure and take that learning to the next one. A single success tends to outweigh multiple failures, so if you keep at it, and keep learning, good things can happen.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I finally abandoned outlook and went all the way to Gmail and Google Calendar etc and it is made my life easier.
-Learn from your failures
-Never stop asking questions