Nothing could have prepared Daniel Lamarre for his gig as chief executive officer of Cirque du Soleil—a company that employs wigmakers and contortionists and yes, a CFO. The live entertainment giant, profiled in the current issue of Fortune , has wowed audiences for decades with its death-defying stunts and extravagant sets and costumes. But what goes on behind the scenes has also been quite colorful.
For most of its history, Cirque’s corporate strategy relied heavily on trying crazy new show concepts and investing in the occasional pet project (think unprofitable restaurants and nightclubs). That vision was set by one man: Guy Laliberté, Cirque’s co-founder and long-time leader. In 2001, Laliberté brought in Lamarre as head of “new ventures,” promoting him to CEO of the company a few years later, even as Laliberté remained the company’s creative spirit, not to mention financial owner. A much bigger change came in 2015, when Laliberté sold the company to a trio of investorsled by private equity firm TPG Capital. Since then, Cirque has expanded in new ways and brought in a new executive team.
Lamarre is one of a small handful of execs who have stayed with the company through this most recent twist. (Laliberté, who had majority ownership before the acquisition, retains a 10% stake in the company and has moved on to other projects.) That puts the CEO, who now answers to a board of directors mostly made up of its new owners, in a unique position to tell Cirque’s story, past, present and future. As Fortune found out, it’s a story worth telling.
Link to Full Article on Fortune.