I am a Disney expert who is semi-professional. I find the stories in boardrooms fascinating. There is always a battle to save a company’s soul after years of stagnation.
James M. Stewart’s excellent book, “DisneyWar”, chronicles two such leadership shake-ups. Michael Eisner was appointed CEO in the wake of a creative slump lasting more than ten years. The second leadership shake-up, which led to the arrival of Bob Iger as CEO, took place after Eisner’s ouster.
Disney’s poor creative decisions cost it when the leadership changed at the end of “DisneyWar”. Eisner left Disney with an uninspired and bland film. He made some poor creative decisions at the end of his career, including approving Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 911” and passing over “Survivor”, and he aired “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” Regis Philbin was on for many hours until viewers became tired of him.
Disney’s new crisis is the result of its unfortunate decision to get involved in Florida state affairs. The theme parks of Disney are not as enjoyable due to high prices and complicated planning tools.
Does Disney need a leadership shake-up? There may be a battle on the horizon, and one party has brought a name that is familiar from Disney’s past. My colleague recently wrote about activist investor Nelson Peltz’s attempts to gain control of the Disney Board.
Peltz is a Republican who describes himself as centrist. He has also gained a reputation for being a reliable Republican contributor. Peltz has supported Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis a Republican Governor from Florida has also been a fan of his.
Peltz is indeed one of two candidates that Trian has put forward for the Disney board. There is also another name that should interest students of Disney’s history: Jay Rasulo.
Rasulo served as Disney’s CFO and Executive Vice President of Disney Parks and Resorts for more than 30 years. Rasulo was also chairman. He is a man that loves Disney and wants it to succeed.
Rasulo said in a release that the Disney he loves and knows has lost its way. Nelson and I, as independent voices, are confident that we can add value to Disney’s Board with our consumer brand expertise, financial savvy, and my Disney experience. Nelson, too, has boardroom skills and a history of driving positive strategic change.
Trian’s statement regarding the nomination of Peltz & Rasulo stated, “We think that Disney’s bad performance is due to an overly-closely tied Board to a CEO in office for many years and not sufficiently connected to shareholders’ interests.”
Peltz said in a press release that the Board needed fresh perspectives, from independent directors selected by shareholders. Trian and I are committed to working with the other members of the Board to solve the fundamental issues that plague the Company.
Disney responded to the Trian nominations with a statement. Disney stated that its board is diverse, experienced, and highly qualified. The company is focused on its long-term performance and strategic growth initiatives. This includes the ongoing transformation of their businesses and increasing shareholder values. “The Governance and Nominating Committee evaluates director nominations and reviews the proposed Trian Candidates. The committee will make a recommendation for its Board as part of its governance process.
Disney must do all it can to make sure Rasulo is on the board. Can Trian’s gamble succeed? It can only be hoped that Peltz and Rasulo can work together and give Disney positive and sensible advice.