Media mogul Barry Diller blasts Expedia's corporate culture: 'It was all life and no work'

Key Points
  • Expedia Chairman Barry Diller called the travel company "bloated" and blamed it on an "all life and no work" atmosphere, unlike Amazon, where the company is "all work and no life."
  • The comments came on Expedia's fourth-quarter earnings call with analysts Thursday.
  • Diller has laid out a strategy to reshape Expedia's businesses since taking over the day-to-day operations following an executive shakeup last December.
Barry Diller speaks during the CNBC Next 25 Gala in New York on Nov. 6, 2014.
David A. Grogan | CNBC

Expedia Chairman Barry Diller told analysts he's determined to reset the travel company's "all life and no work" corporate culture, since he took over the company following an executive shakeup last December.

On Expedia's fourth-quarter earnings call Thursday, Diller compared Expedia's work-life balance to fellow Seattle-based tech company Amazon, which he said was the opposite. By comparison, Expedia has become "sclerotic and bloated" as the company lacked focus and direction, Diller said.

"Amazon was all work and no life, and at Expedia, it was all life and no work," Diller said. "That is not damning our employees. But for several years, we really lost clarity and discipline. So we're changing a great deal."

The comments came after Expedia reported results for the fourth quarter. The company beat on the bottom line and forecast double-digit adjusted EBITDA growth for 2020. Expedia also said it's targeting $300 million to $500 million of run-rate cost savings across its business.

Shares of Expedia climbed 11% on Friday.

Diller and Vice Chairman Peter Kern took over the day-to-day operations at Expedia after former CEO Mark Okerstrom and CFO Alan Pickerill stepped down in December. At the time, Diller said the leadership changes resulted from disagreements over strategy between senior management and the board.

On the call, Diller said the company doesn't plan to conduct a search for a new CEO. Diller added that, moving forward, he intends to cut down on "wasteful activities that weren't core" to the business.

That includes streamlining units like the company's home rental platform Vrbo, which Diller described as a "bunch of disparate businesses, brands, all over the world" and reprioritizing Expedia's air business.

"We're stopping doing dumb things and starting to do what we think are good things," Diller said.

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