The Engineering Leadership Podcast · Episode 182

Why Engineering Needs a Seat at the Negotiating Table

with Melody Hildebrandt

Jun 04, 2024
We revisit an episode from the podcast archives – Melody Hildebrandt (CTO @ Fox) shares her experience representing the tech org during the biggest deal in entertainment history! We cover Melody’s most important lessons negotiating on behalf of the tech org plus how they leveraged the M&A event to accelerate innovation and productivity. Melody will be joining us as one of our featured speakers @ ELC Annual 2024 (our two-day conference on 8/27-8/28! Check out our incredible line up of speakers, other conference experiences & tickets at []( Use the exclusive discount code "**podcast10**" (all lowercase) for a 10% discount.
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Melody Hildebrandt (@mhil) is Chief Technology Officer for Fox Corporation, where sets set the comprehensive technology strategy for the Company. She previous served as the company’s Chief Information Security Officer and as the President of its research and development subsidiary, Blockchain Creative Labs.

In her current role, Hildebrandt leads the development, design and implementation of emerging technologies across the FOX enterprise, spanning FOX Sports, FOX News, FOX Entertainment, FOX Television Stations, and Tubi Media Group. Her current focus is on future planning, including developments in artificial intelligence and authenticating and monetizing premium content via blockchain technology. She also continues to oversee the cyber-security posture of the business and leads technology M&A efforts, identifying areas for investment and growth.

Prior to FOX, Hildebrandt held the role of Global Chief Information Security Officer at 21st Century Fox, where she was responsible for the cyber security posture of 21CF businesses, including 20th Century Fox, FOX Networks Group, National Geographic Partners, FOX News, Star India and others.

Before 21CF, she was Forward Deployed Engineer at Palantir Technologies, where she helped start its commercial work and led Palantir’s business in cyber security, anti-money laundering and rogue trading detection. Prior to that, she consulted US and international governments with Booz Allen Hamilton, where she designed military and strategy wargames.

Hildebrandt is the Executive Sponsor of Women in Technology at FOX.

"One thing that we intervened on very quickly because we were AT the table for (the conversation), "How should we structure the deal?" Was to do something that was quite counter-intuitive I think, and very controversial... Which was to say ‘Let's essentially value all of our current technology assets at near-zero... And make them part of the deal.’"

- Melody Hildebrandt   

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  • Background on the Fox Disney “mega-deal” (03:39)
  • How to structure an M&A to accelerate your tech roadmap (06:01)
  • Motivating engineering teams with forcing functions (10:14)
  • What it was like representing a tech org in deal structuring (13:13)
  • How to develop an engineering org’s merger strategy (17:36)
  • M&A negotiation tips for engineering leaders (20:07)
  • A critical skill for eng leaders: converting tech pains into business goals (22:59)
  • How to get executive buy-in on engineering initiatives (27:58)
  • “Crashing” your way to a seat at the table (31:05)
  • Melody’s process for setting the strategic direction of an engineering org (32:19)
  • Managing engineering teams from high and low — the middle is death (34:35)
  • Why this M&A event continues to accelerate innovation (37:37)
  • Rapid-Fire Questions (42:26)


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