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rne Sorenson was either out of his mind or making the best move of his career when he picked up the phone in October 2015 and dialed Bill Marriott. The octogenarian patriarch of the hotel empire had anointed Sorenson as Marriott’s CEO just three years earlier, the first time someone from outside the family had led the 92-year-old firm. Now Sorenson was going to propose something crazy: Spend $13.6 billion to buy rival Starwood Hotels, which ran upscale chains like the W, the St. Regis and Le Meridien. This at a time when Marriott’s market cap was just $20 billion and traditional hotels were fighting a furious rearguard action against internet upstarts like Airbnb and Vrbo. “It was obvio... Full story

13 January