Sold! Advanced Book Exchange and Cirque du Soleil

A few Canadian businesses have been sold recently. For example, the outstanding Advanced Book Exchange (ABE), the Victoria-based clearing house for hard-to-find used and rare books, has been inhaled by Amazon. ABE claims they will continue business as usual and will not relocate.

On a more acrobatic note, 20% of Cirque du Soleil has been sold to interests in Dubai (at least it’s only 20% — for now).

15 thoughts on “Sold! Advanced Book Exchange and Cirque du Soleil

  1. What’s funny is thatCDS is my client and the people that work there often call my firm a greedy corporate machine.

    Welcome my son, welcome, to… the machine.

  2. Knowing how Guy has managed CDS so far, I’m not too worried about the 20% share sale to the Dubai partners. While it may appear as a greedy move, I think it is more of a move to secure CDS’ future, and a desire to be part (i.e. a major part) of the growing Dubai entertainment & tourist industries.

    Remember, this is the same company that has pulled out of other big deals with big partners for big $$ (sometimes in the 11th hour), because it wasn’t right for CDS in the end. Actually going forward with a deal of this magnitude makes me think that the details of the contract really must have been right. It would be interesting to see if people were worried that CDS was ‘selling out’ when they launched a partnership with MGM in Vegas, and certainly there was some backlash at the start of the Beatles’ project (perhaps there still is?). While some people still think CDS has sold out with these and other projects, I think the company has maintained its core values throughout. It’s just that how they are expressed is changing…not necessarily a bad thing. I think there’s much more of a chance of running CDS into the ground by staying exactly the same. Eventually the market can’t bear it anymore and the business becomes tired & unprofitable (therefore, no matter how great the creative expression, it becomes extinct).

    All that being said, I’m not naïve enough to think that CDS is infallible. A move like a sale of 20% of the shares definitely keeps you on your toes, and your eyes open for ‘greedy corporate machine’ actions and culture creeping in.

    Although I would be hard pressed to deny that CDS is more corporate than it used to be (inevitable due to size I think), the company is still a far cry from ‘the corporate machine’.

  3. Well the company they sold to also owns MGM and most of the Vegas strip. This sounds more like “Want to keep you locations, sell to us” Because Ti-Guy had no reason to sell whatsoever.

    And being on the inside, oh it’s just another corporate machine. They do things here that my EVIL BORG FIRM would consider unethical but that I think is just street business smarts. When I’m at my weekly departments meetings its all about money management and resources, nothing about creativity and fluffy bunnies. They just have the advantageous luxury banks or corporations don’t have, clowns and acrobats as frontmen. But the men behind the curtains wear suits and ties also. They sell an illusion and they do it well.

  4. That’s funny. I actually work for said ‘corporate machine’, and um, our meetings are about how to accomplish the creative aspirations, while meeting business expectations and managing assets (both the human & $$ kind) efficiently.

    No one wants to think there are number crunchers and managers and a host of other ‘corporate’ people behind the more creative part of the business (and who can blame them…I’d love to believe in the fantasy that a company with the creative output of Cirque survives on creativity alone), but the reality is, without the people that do those things, the creative thing wouldn’t happen at the level and for the duration that it has. And the clowns and acrobats (and fluffy bunnies…or I’d more say goth bunnies) are more than just front men and women. They still are the reason everyone is doing what they are doing at the company.

    p.s. I have never in 7 years seen anyone in the company successfully stick with tie wearing. Anyone who came in wearing a tie either left or stopped wearing it very quickly. I realise you may mean this figuratively, but I think it even works on that level. Anyone too corporate in nature, with closed thinking and resistant to change doesn’t last long…

    p.p.s. If you read one of the articles in Blork’s links, you’ll notice that one of the Dubai companies owns a minority share of MGM…they don’t own it outright. And also, if you’ve been paying attention in the news, CDS also has a partnership with another company that has hotels in Vegas, but is NOT MGM. I’m all for watching out for ‘the man’, but lets not get paranoid.

  5. Hatboy, there’s a difference between the icing on the cake and the cake itself. The icing is what sells the cake. I guess you bought the icing. My firm tries to sell us “The Family” all the time. But come on, really? Have you not seen the Wizard of Oz?

    Reply to PS: Look harder. There are PLENTY of suits and ties in the literal sens also. Even when they visit on my tour they still wear the suits and ties with those leather shoes on what is basically a construction site. CDS is much more corporate than you can imagine. They master the language and the definition of words. Their product is illusion. Selling everyone on something is easy, because the CDS closely resembles a “cult of personality”. It’s as if Guy Laliberté, like Steve Jobs and other such figures can do no wrong. Don’t get me wrong this is the best gig I’ve ever had and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but my eyes are always open and my brain set to misanthrope.

  6. Can I step in for a sec?

    It may not be obvious to everyone reading this, but The Milliner (who is a girl, not a boy) and DAVE ID *both* work for the Cirque du Soleil, but in very different types of jobs. The Milliner has been with the Cirque longer; seven years vs. Dave’s one year (has it only been a year Dave? Correct me if I’m wrong).

    Each has a very different perspective. The Milliner works organizationally closer to the creative side (costume design, purchasing, etc.), and has been with the Cirque longer, than Dave. Dave, on the other hand, works physically closer to the creative side (he works on-site setting up the IT stuff for live shows), but the actual work is more nut & bolts, full of purchase orders, wiring diagrams, etc.

    OK, now that the lurkers are in context, back to our program…

  7. Thanks for the context Blork :). We could debate this until the cows come home, but quite frankly, I don’t have the time…at least not right now…a much more important little being of the human variety needs me more. So, as fun as this is, this will be my last comment on the subject.

    But, I digress…I have not drunk the kool-aid, bought ‘the Family’ cult or bought the icing. I enjoy the icing mind you, but I have not lost sight of the cake. I find work most satisfying when I’m trying to accomplish creative and business goals together in an ethical manner. Yes, it’s hard. And a total pain sometimes (much easier to just focus on one area). And there are lots of discussions & disagreements. But the payoff is totally worth it. And I don’t have to sell my soul in the process.

    And, I LOVE the Wizard of Oz. I mean, I’m married to the Tinman, so you’re talking to the wrong girl. And yes, I know you are referring to the man behind the curtain. But, how often do you have the chance to say you’re married to the Tinman in direct (kind of) response to something?

    Anyhow, I am as critical as anyone of life at Cirque and am fiercely protective of the culture of its roots…and maintaining that culture. Sure, the big, bad corporate machine threatens at every corner. And mistakes are made. No doubt. But overall, it’s still a place where you can do great things, keeping your morality, creativity and ethics in tact…if you dare to follow your gut and speak up or try to change things when your integrity (& CDS’ values) are compromised.

    I don’t put Guy on a pedestal. No one is perfect, but he’s doing a lot more in a lifetime (creatively and ethically, not to mention business-wise) than most other people would dare to attempt (and this includes before the big $$ came as well). It’s easy to target guys (no pun intended) like that.

    p.s. I’ve heard stories of visits on tour by IHQ staff not fully embracing the ‘camping’ aspect of tour life, and this is unfortunate. You can bet that everytime I go on tour, I behave as if I live on tour – appropriate attire and getting hands dirty, respecting tour protocol etc. For sure this is something that needs to be worked on. And really, if staff isn’t acting appropriately, then its our job to tell them or to raise the issue so it can be corrected.

    Have a great weekend.

  8. One more little thing…interesting that you assumed I was a boy.

    Just saying.

  9. Hatgirl then ;) And I mistook you for a man perhaps because of biological gender bias. Who knows.

    And to correct I am the IT department for one of their shows. I setup, run and manage the entire dept like one would for a company. I’m close to all aspects of the tour IT wise, from the needs of wardrobe to the needs of Food and beverage, to the needs of tour services. As the SysAdmin I oversee all aspects of support, purchases, implementation and so forth related to IT.

    After 10 years of corporate consulting with banks, Hydro, etc, I’ve also lost my cherry a long time ago concerning corporate speak. I can translate the corporate BS to French or English real fast now. I’m critical of all large corporations (including my own) and scrutinize any of its leaders because they deserve such scrutiny. Most of them are not noble and hold in their hands the future of thousands of people. They should be targeted for critique. Give any man to much money and they turn easily into dicks. Just yesterday a Tapis Rouge customer flaunted his black American Express card and started flapping his gums about his buying power because a credit card terminal failed. Felt like taking his card and breaking it in two just to piss him off some more and he wasn’t even talking to me I was just fixing the switch.

    I don’t know what the buy out will mean for the future of CDS. Personally I don’t like seeing go to hands outside of Quebec, much less to one of such a differing culture who might try to influence the creative content of the shows.

    Now I’m trying to figure out if Tinman is a reference to someone I know at CDS and if so who ;) It’s bugging me.

    And yeah, the camping life rules. If ever I go back to “real” or “normal” life I’ll have trouble reinserting myself into that “real” or “normal” life again. It’s all to weird. Just going to IHQ was weird, felt alien.

  10. Heh heh. I get the Tinman reference, but Dave, you’ll probably never guess it in a million years.

    BTW, since it’s only a 20% interest, I can’t imagine there will be much, if any, effect on the culture. Sounds to me like it’s basically an infusion of cash in exchange for a (non-majority) voice on the board, with the driving factor probably being better access to the Dubai and other Middle-eastern markets.

    As in, by being partly owned by Dubai interests, it probably allows them some kind of “front of the line” privileges over there, like tax breaks, or better leasehold conditions or whatever.

  11. LOL :D Wizard of Oz, Tinman, If I only had a heart. I think I know the movie…by heart.

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