To his employees he was Scrooge, to his authors he was Santa, and to the publishing world he was Simon & Schuster. But on June 14, Dick Snyder, the 61-year-old CEO, was evicted from his house of 33 years — albeit with a reported $10 million golden parachute — by his new bosses at Viacom.
That night it would have been hard to gauge who was happier in New York City, Rangers fans celebrating the Stanley Cup, or the S&S workers who for years put up with a caste system of elevators that reserved one bank for management. An aberration among New York’s publishing houses, S&S didn’t keep summer hours, and there were stories that Snyder insisted employees not leave the office until 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Meanwhile, he maintained an opulent corporate lifestyle, with his own private chef and chauffeur. ”What can I say?” an assistant editor said of the firing. ”We felt like having a ticker-tape parade!”
Snyder transformed S&S from the $70 million company he inherited in 1975 into the $2 billion behemoth it has become. Clearly Viacom saw Snyder as something of a behemoth, too. His firing could have been foretold last winter, when Viacom’s Sumner Redstone outbid QVC’s Barry Diller for Paramount, S&S’s corporate parent. Rather than curry favor with his new employers, Snyder reportedly sought to renegotiate his $1 million salary.
Snyder planned to host a dinner for Redstone on June 16. On June 14, Snyder called CBS honcho Howard Stringer, one of his guests, to say that Redstone would not be coming. Stringer asked, ”What happened? You just get fired?”
”As a matter of fact, I just did,” said Snyder.
Now there are smiles on the faces of the S&S employees. Snyder’s replacement, Jonathan Newcomb, has instituted summer hours and freed up the elevators.