The Heaviest Hitter in the Business

Dorothy Hong

America's highest-paid CEO even answers the question, 'Which "Jersey Shore" character would you be?'

In his office at viacom's times square headquarters, president and CEO Philippe Dauman likes to show off one of his prized mementos.

"Many years ago -- early on in my career at Viacom -- when we were in the boxing business through Showtime, I attended at ringside the fight where Mike Tyson bit a piece of Evander Holyfield's ear off," he recalls. "I do not have the piece of the ear, but I do have two boxing gloves signed right before the fight."

Dauman himself delivered a knockout of a year for Viacom. In 2010, the entertainment giant recorded $13.2 billion in revenue, grew key financials and saw its stock price rise more than 30 percent -- outperformed among entertainment giants only by CBS Corp.

His personal finances have also soared. Dauman received compensation valued at $84.5 million for the company's 2010 fiscal year (which was only nine months long because of a change in its financial reporting calendar), up from $34 million in 2009, making him the nation's highest-paid CEO across all industries, not just media and entertainment, according to a New York Times survey.

The former lawyer, whom chairman Sumner Redstone calls a close friend, has invested in research and content development to drive creative and financial improvements. Paramount has developed such franchises as Transformers, and most brands in Viacom's cable portfolio have been on a roll with such hits as Jersey Shore (if he were a Shore character, Dauman says, "I would just like to be their uncle") and Teen Mom on MTV, The Game on BET and Tosh.0 on Comedy Central.

Lazard Capital Markets analyst Barton Crockett recently initiated coverage of Viacom shares with a "buy" rating and a $73 price target. "Too cheap, too much growth to ignore," he said. The stock closed April 18 at $47.40, near its highest level of the past year and giving the company a market value of $28.7 billion.

"We are a pure content company," Dauman says, "and the opportunities for content today are greater than they have ever been" thanks to the digital age.