Je ne sais pas un “Universal”

Time Warner doesn’t have to feel so lonely anymore.

Finally officially recognizing the debacle that was its acquisition of Universal Studios (via merger with then-parent company Seagram), Vivendi Universal is renaming itself Vivendi.

As this helpful Wikipedia entry shows, the company previously had that name for just two years. The former French water company “Compagnie Générale des Eaux” renamed itself Vivendi in 1998 as it started selling construction and property divisions and investing in Pay TV and telecom.

By 2000, it got rid of its water and waste businesses to focus on the much more reliable entertainment business. After the Seagrams merger, it became Vivendi Universal. Those were, of course, the days of “flamboyant” (aka off his rocker) CEO Jean-Marie Messier and an amusingly aborted attempt to make Curious George its mascot.

By 2004, most of the Universal Studios assets were bought by GE, leaving the company still known as Vivendi Universal with Universal Music Group, Vivendi Universal Games (video games), Canal Plus (French Pay TV), and some telecom holdings. Perhaps not wanting to look too dumb at the time, it took VU two years to finally admit it’s just V, and NBC Universal is the company that actually has most of the assets that we think of as “Universal.”

Of course, that’s not quite the message of the press release, titled “Vivendi, The Name of a Renewed, High-Performance Company.”

Also highly amusing is this animation on Vivendi’s website introducing its new logo. Based on this, it would appear Vivendi is a “renewed, high-performance company” where everybody is high.