The abrupt exit, described as an unfriendly ‘push’ by the Wall Street Journal and an ‘ouster’ by the New York Times, comes just as Live Nation seemed to be turning things around (or, at least losing less money). But the seeds of this seemed planted with the recent elevation of Jared Smith to President of Ticketmaster North America, who is now expected to assume the top global position.
The bigger question is whether other heads will roll, though for right now, the drama seems limited to ticketing. Live Nation has yet to offer any statement at all on the matter; Hubbard himself has not responded to an inquiry. The Journal canvassed a range of possible issues, including head-butting with Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino, an uncomfortably public profile by Hubbard, or a desire to increase the technical expertise of the Ticketmaster chief.
Hubbard’s compensation was considered aggressive, though mere foodstamps compared to that of Rapino. Hubbard’s compensation levels surpassed $4.1 million in 2011, though Rapino’s Sultan-esque paycheck is now approaching $30 million annually, with Brentwood compounds and all sorts of strange perks despite gaping Live Nation losses. Since getting spun-off by Clear Channel back in 2005, Live Nation has hemorrhaged nearly $1 billion, with Rapino overseeing most of the frightening implosion.
An elevating stock could complement a handsome exit parachute for Hubbard, depending on the details. So far, a few executives are cashing in on rising ‘LYV’ valuations, according to SEC transaction data, though Hubbard might be wise to hold his shares.