Nice guy, but kind of an empty suit. One thing people outside the industry don’t realize is how hard it is to come to the Valley as an outsider and make a go of anything. The guys in Hollywood think they can cut it because they’re in such a nasty business. But they have no idea how evil people are here (cough Tom Perkins) and they have no idea of the scale. Apple alone is twice the size of the entire U.S. box office. And we’re just a slice of the tech industry. In aggregate, the tech industry dwarfs Hollywood. There’s way more money involved. Guys like Semel come up here and they’re just overwhelmed. Another issue is that it’s tough to run a tech shop when you’re not a techie yourself, or at least, as in my case, you’ve been around techies long enough to know when they’re bullshitting you. From what I’m told the engineers at Yahoo had a running contest to see who could tell Semel the most outrageous lie and get away with it. Best one was a thing they called the Associative Speculative Search algorithm. They had 12 guys from IIT Bombay who were supposedly working on it; in fact they were down in some lab playing World of Warcraft.
As for Jerry Yang, don’t get me started. First time I met him I mentioned Frank Gehry and he said, “Is that the new guy they just hired at Google?” Terry Semel at least can go back to Hollywood. I loved him in all those Christopher Guest movies.