Thursday, February 12, 2015

Disney Hand Off

The Times says it's going swimmingly.

...At companies in less ego-driven industries than media and entertainment, the orderly naming of a longtime insider (Mr. Staggs has been with Disney for 25 years) as chief executive-in-waiting might not warrant headlines. But at Disney, Mr. Iger’s predecessor, Michael Eisner, elevated and discarded some prominent candidates to succeed him — Jeffrey Katzenberg and Michael Ovitz, in particular — in a multiyear drama that eventually led to a shareholder revolt and Mr. Eisner’s ouster. ...

For many chief executives, the ability to exit gracefully while anointing a strong successor is one of the most important but least appreciated qualities of leadership, according to David Larcker, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an expert in corporate governance. “It’s very difficult,” he said. “Look at Ovitz at Disney. That was a monumental disaster. And the transition from Eisner was awkward, to put it mildly. You have to admire Iger, who recognized that he’s done what he came to do and it’s time for new blood. From the outside, this appears to be going very smoothly. Disney has successfully avoided any public spectacle.” ...

After the slow-motion multi-car pileup of the final Eisney years, I wouldn't have believed that Robert Iger could have run Diz Co. so smoothly and with so little drama.

But by golly he has. He's increased the size of the Mouse, goosed profits, and turned the conglomerate into the Berkshire-Hathaway of entertainment behemoths. Disney purists gripe about how "it ain't Disney anymore," bu Ward Kimball told the assembled multitudes that Walt Disney Productions was over as "Walt Disney" when the founder breathed his last.

Time passes, things change.


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