SFX Entertainment, the newly public company that produces electronic music festivals like Tomorrowland and Electric Zoo, had one of the most awkward earnings calls in history on Thursday.
A big point of contention: the above video, and related images, which feature SFX founder and Chief Executive Officer Robert Sillerman exiting an airplane in Miami earlier this week, throwing up the middle finger to onlookers and grabbing his private parts. The images spread on Twitter and Instagram this week.
Doug Mitchelson, an analyst at Deutsche Bank, had trouble holding back laughter as he asked Sillerman on the call: “And lastly, Bob, I’m not even sort of sure how to ask this question… we understand that you’re something of a nontraditional CEO, but any comment you want to make on the gestures you were making? Was that to a specific person or to everybody as you came out of the plane yesterday? We’re just trying to make sure that you’re still sane.”
Sillerman, who’s in his mid-sixties, responded: “Um, well — thank you for referring to me as a nontraditional CEO. That was a result of an internal, the culmination of an internal conversation and joke within the company, and while I certainly wasn’t crazy about the fact that it was tweeted out, it’s had a very interesting reaction from the uh, music community down here, [which] has fundamentally said, “Fuck yeah, we get it.”
He continued: “But no, I was not trying to imitate Michael Jackson or Stephen Colbert talking to somebody about how much better the hot dogs were in New York. That was an internal thing. It’s fairly indicative, I think, of the way internally that we enjoy ourselves, and we’re willing to push the envelope, I guess is the best way to say it.”
Mitchelson thanked Sillerman, who answered: “Now Doug, you weren’t concerned it was aimed at you, were you?”
Mitchelson chuckled and said, “It seemed more general than that.” Sillerman responded, “Yeah.”
TheStreet noted that there were other uncomfortable moments throughout the profanity-filled call, including an accusation from one analyst that the company was trying to brush over “shitty deals” through accounting adjustments.
SFX, which went public in October at $13 a share, fell 12% yesterday and another 1% today to around $6.75. The company posted sales of $170.5 million for 2013 and a net loss of $111.9 million.
Sillerman, who was in Miami for the Ultra music festival, initially made his fortune by buying and selling radio stations, then spent the ’90s combining regional concert promoters into the precursor of what is now Live Nation. He established SFX as an electronic dance music company in July 2011, seeing a compelling opportunity in the culture around the genre.