CAA-ICM: Drama, Diaspora & the First 100 Days
Internal details emerge as a new L.A. Times exposé looms and... APA rises?
It’s hard to think of a Hollywood institution that has put a greater emphasis on fostering and guarding its internal culture than CAA. Part mythmaking and part smart corporate governance, CAA has set a standard for demanding a certain level of “buy-in” from its employees long before Netflix could boast about inventing its own corporate vernacular. Sure, much has changed since the days when Michael Ovitz was handing out copies of Sun Tzu’s Art of War to new recruits, but even if CAA’s culture has softened a bit, its unyielding emphasis on personal accountability and teamwork has endured through the decades.
Over the past three months CAA’s vaunted culture has been stress-tested by the absorption of more than 425 former ICM employees, all of whom arrived with a radically different notion of what it means to show up at work. “The cultures could not be more different and I’m not sure how that reconciles over time,” says a person who had worked at both agencies. “ICM culture was all about the individual agent — what they can do on their own with little to zero collaboration. CAA is the exact opposite of that.”
It’s been 100 days since CAA closed on its acquisition of ICM (well, exactly 106 as of today), which marked the largest talent agency pairing since Endeavor joined forces with William Morris Agency in 2009. The acquisition reduced the Big Four (CAA, ICM, WME, UTA) to the Big Three. Over the past few weeks, The Ankler checked in with a dozen current and former employees of ICM and CAA to see how it’s all going. The answer? Well, that very much depends on whom you ask.