Q&A with Greg Blatt, Business Executive

Interview with Greg Blatt

Greg Blatt is a longtime executive with experience in a range of areas of business including online dating. He has served as the Chairman and CEO of Match Group and CEO of Tinder. He has also served as the Executive Chairman for both companies. Prior to those roles he spent time as the CEO of IAC and also served as that company’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel.

Before his time with IAC, Greg Blatt was employed at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. as that company’s Executive Vice President, Business Affairs and General Counsel. Previously he had served as an associate at two well-known New York law firms, Grubman Indursky & Schindler and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. His J.D. is from Columbia Law School and his Bachelor’s is from Colgate University.


Your career has been quite diverse. To start, what made you want to go to law school?


Well, I’d say it stemmed from my time after college when I was taking a few years off. I spent time in Hungary, France, San Francisco, and Telluride, Colorado. I was doing a bunch of different jobs like bussing tables, bartending, and painting houses. It was great but I decided I wanted to move on so I went to law school. Like everything I was doing at the time, that was really just because I thought I’d like it, I didn’t have any career in mind with that move.


And then law school pushed you towards a career in law?


Law school helped me develop my interest in corporate law and finance so afterward I went to work at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, a large M & A firm. I learned a lot there but ultimately decided it wasn’t where my passion was. I was actually writing quite a bit at that time — screenplays and novels — so I pivoted to pursuing entertainment law. My thinking was that working in entertainment might help me pursue my creative aspirations. Pretty soon after that, Martha Stewart, who was one of my primary clients, started making plans to take her company public and she asked me to be her general counsel. It was a great opportunity so I accepted. Lo and behold after working as a general counsel for a bit I realized I really loved that work and it fit much better than the previous stuff I had done.


How did that lead to your time at IAC and Match?


I was with Martha Stewart for four years and then was offered a similar position at IAC, which was a much bigger job than what I had held previously. So I made that move and worked there as general counsel for five years. After that, I was offered the opportunity to run, what was then, our small dating subdivision. It was my firm belief that online dating was poised to take off and I really wanted to help take it to the top so I made the switch. I spent a few years building Match Group into the larger entity it eventually came to be. Surprisingly to me, after that time Barry Diller, my boss, offered me the CEO position at IAC. I took it and was in that role for three years before deciding I’d be able to do more by heading Match and pushing it towards its IPO. Maybe a bit of a roundabout path but it all makes sense when you take a bird’s-eye view.


Any reoccurring habits that you recommend to others?


I constantly question what I do at every step along the process while there is still time to make changes. Once the ability to make changes ends, I never question again.


What’s a character trait that has helped you as an entrepreneur?


I’m sure it annoys the people around me but I’m a firm believer in asking “why” to pretty much anything someone tells me. You can know the “what” or the “how” for some process or business idea but it really doesn’t mean much unless you know the “why.” Once you know that, however, you can use that information to identify what can be improved upon, which is really at the core of entrepreneurialism.


How do you turn ideas into action?


As a CEO or really anyone else at the top of an organization, your job is all about empowering others to make change. So I wouldn’t say that I turn ideas into action myself, but rather I make sure that we have the right people in the right places to make everything work smoothly. The mark of a good leader is trusting and enabling others to do their jobs.


Any advice for your younger self?


Take an extra year off before law school!


What’s something about the way society is trending that you think holds potential?


I think the power of video as a communication tool is really exciting. I’ve been saying it for a while but I think it’s kind of having its moment now. Phone calls are a great way to communicate but they pale in comparison to video, which is really much closer to being in the same room as someone. That’s going to be a game changer as the technology gets even better and more widely used.


How do you schedule your day with respect to meeting and obligations?


I’m a big believer in the power of in-person meetings, I think they can be really productive and help bring ideas to fruition. Part of that process is having a good back and forth with others, which can sometimes make meetings last longer than you might have thought. So I try to avoid being overscheduled or having too many standing meetings since I never know where a day might take me. When I leave my schedule open and flexible, it allows me to concentrate my energy where I think it’s most needed at that moment.


Do you have a piece of software you’d recommend to others for productivity?


Gmail and the entire Google suite are amazing. I finally left outlook behind and I’m not looking back.


What’s one major strategy for success that has helped you in business?


Being flexible and covering your bases. No one can predict the future so the way to set yourself up for success is to maximize your chances. For instance, I was confident when I entered the field of online dating that it was poised for growth, but I didn’t have the silver bullet that I knew would succeed. So we tried a bunch of different strategies and started, or bought, a variety of business that competed against each other. Eventually, that led to a tremendous amount of growth.


Can you share a failure and how you overcame it?


I’ve had plenty of failures through businesses I started that ultimately didn’t turn a profit but failure is always an opportunity to learn something. By learning from each failure you’re able to make the next chance you take more likely to succeed. If you stick with it you’ll get where you’re going eventually.


Do you have an opinion you feel is true but others don’t?


I know people love their iPhones, and I do too in many ways, but I miss blackberries.


Key Learnings:

-Success comes after failure by learning from mistakes

-Ask questions constantly

-Flexibility is important


More about Greg Blatt on Crunchbase

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