Our political signals are crossed today on news that Chris Liddell, the New Zealand-born businessman who has served as chief financial officer at William Morris Endeavor since 2014, will hold the very agency-like title “Assistant to the President and Director of Strategic Initiatives” in the incoming administration of one Donald J. Trump.
You may recall that David Droga and other partners sold “a sizable stake” in the Droga5 organization to WME | IMG back in 2013. At the time, sources estimated that William Morris had acquired 49 percent of the agency for around $115 million. A Droga5 release called its new minority owner “one of the world’s preeminent entertainment companies.”
This is not a particularly surprising development as Liddell, who began his career as an investment banker and previously served as CFO at Microsoft and General Motors, was involved in the Trump transition team and also played a prominent role on the financial side of Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign.
For context, WME | IMG was co-founded by Ari Emanuel—the brother of former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, a longtime Democratic Party donor and the inspiration for Ari Gold of “Entourage.”
And Droga5 was the Hillary Clinton 2016 campaign’s unofficial creative agency of record.
A WME spokesperson declined to comment directly on the news, but below is the internal note sent to all staff yesterday when it first broke.
This week, Chris Liddell was appointed Assistant to the President and Director of Strategic Initiatives by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. Chris joined WME | IMG at an important moment for our company and built a strong financial foundation that positions us to succeed in the years to come. We are grateful for his leadership and wish him well in this next chapter.
We are pleased to share that Jason Lublin will assume the role of WME | IMG’s Global CFO. Jason joined Endeavor as CFO in 2007 and has steered us in executive financial and operational roles ever since. The past nine years have been unlike any other for this company, and Jason’s operational expertise and multidisciplinary approach helped us take leadership positions in new industries and geographies. In the midst of an incredible growth trajectory, Jason will now lead teams charged with further strengthening our position as a company unlike any other.