Eisner to step down from Disney post at end of contract

Posted Friday, September 10, 2004 8:52 AM | Contributed by wahoo skipper

Michael Eisner plans to step down as Walt Disney Co.'s chief executive when his contract expires in September 2006, the Wall Street Journal said on Friday. He says the recent controversy had nothing to do with his decision.

Read more from Reuters.

Friday, September 10, 2004 9:02 AM
Well, I'm not so sure about the recent events not affecting his decision but he has been with the company 20 years, has money that generations of Eisner's will be milking, and he doesn't get out on the golf course that much. If I were him I would have left a couple of years ago.

It sure puts into context his reasoning for coming out the other day to offer his suggestion for a future successor; Iger. Though, I wouldn't overlook someone like Steve Jobs if I was sitting on the Board of Directors.

Watching this and the departure of Dick Kinzel at Cedar Fair around the same time is going to be fun. Both are strong leaders who don't have easily identifiable successors. Both certainly put major stamps on their respective companies while in command.

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Friday, September 10, 2004 9:14 AM
Like hell it doesn't. He knows there is no chance that he'd get an extension- he'll be lucky if he makes it through until September 2006- so why would he set himself up for defeat instead of bowing out gracefully?

I can't wait to see him go... the sooner the better. Good riddance. He had his moment but that passed long ago.

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Friday, September 10, 2004 9:41 AM
He's like Trump, too big of an ego. He looks at the attempted "coup" and sees that he survived it and doesn't think his enemies will try again...
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Friday, September 10, 2004 9:49 AM
I think his enemies WILL try again... now that they see that Eisner is on his way out, I think that they'll come back with an effort to get rid of him before his contract expires in 2006. Whether it works or not is another story altogether.
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Friday, September 10, 2004 10:18 AM
rollergator's avatar "He says the recent controversy had nothing to do with his decision."

...and some people say cucumbers taste better pickled....;)

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Friday, September 10, 2004 1:06 PM
Back when the whole Roy Disney thing happened I remember reading that the average time a CEO stays in office is something around 15 to 20 years. That would make Eisner past due...or expired (like milk) however you see it.
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Friday, September 10, 2004 1:19 PM
Thank God he finally made ONE right choice. It's gotten pretty sad.

I for one would still like to see Disney as a family company with Roy in the office. But, for now, we can only hope!

Charlie

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Friday, September 10, 2004 1:43 PM
No offense to Roy, but he's like, what... 75? Not that age has anything to do with one's ability to run a company but you have to take into consideration the fact that he probably wouldn't stay in that position very long. And I see little point to letting him take control of the company only to have someone else come in a few years later and shake things up again. The best choice is someone that plans on staying in that position for a while.
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Friday, September 10, 2004 2:52 PM
Jeff's avatar I find it hilarious how everyone acts like they know Eisner as if they work with him every day and have his personality pegged. Disney wouldn't be as big as it is today if it wasn't for Eisner.
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Friday, September 10, 2004 3:27 PM
One doesn't need to work with Eisner on a daily basis in order to see the faults in his leadership skills. Nor do they need to know him to know his personality. When people in the entertainment industry have gone on record as saying that they refuse to work with Eisner, that's a pretty obvious clue that he is not an easy person to work with.

Eisner helped Disney through some rough times and helped re-establish the company as a media powerhouse. For that, I give him credit. But look at the fall of Disney animation, the decline in theme park attendance DESPITE heavy investment in new rides (and let's not make mention of that lousy 9/11 excuse), the breakdown of negotiations with Pixar, the impending split from Miramax, the acquisition of 4th place network ABC... shall I go on? It doesn't take a genius to figure out that something is wrong at Disney and that all blame points to the CEO- the person that should get the blame.

And doesn't anyone find it ironic that Disney experienced unparalleled growth up until the time that Frank Wells passed away? Could it be at all possible that Wells was responsible for the success of Disney and not Eisner?

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Friday, September 10, 2004 3:34 PM
Eisner did a lot for the company, but his early year successes could be attributed mostly to Frank Wells. After he died, Eisner's leadership in the company began to wane. So while Eisner deserves kudos for turning around Disney back in 84 I think, people say that Frank Wells was the mastermind of that.

Personally, I really don't care one way or the other. Disney has gotten stale under Eisner for the past 10 years or so, and it's time for new blood to step in. Iger has had too much contact with Eisner, and wouldn't be my first choice. Then again, the board is Eisner's lapdog, so it makes sense that they would appoint someone like Eisner as a successor. My vote is for Steve Jobs or better yet, John Lassiter from Pixar. Now THERE'S a creative genius akin to Walt Disney if there ever was one...

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Friday, September 10, 2004 3:54 PM
I don't want to get too political here but I don't think 9/11 is "lousy excuse" for anything.

It is a miracle our economy is doing as well as it is today when you consider that perhaps the single most significant single, one-day event in our nation's history struck at the center of the world's financial hub. People say 9/11 can't be Bush's excuse but let's get real about this. 9/11 is a damn good excuse.

The same can be said for the effects of 9/11 on the tourism industry and Florida in particular. In Disney's history no other event has impacted the company more. Even during the war Disney actually made a little money by producing films for the military.

As for Eisner, he and Wells were a formidable team. The relationship was not unlike that of Walt and Roy. Walt was an idea man but many would credit Roy for the financial success of the company. Ditto for Michael and Frank. Disney may not even exist as we know it today if not for the steps Eisner and Wells (and Roy, Jr.) took back in the mid 80's. Under Eisner Walt Disney World really has become a world. Don't forget it was two parks and a handful of hotels prior to '84.

Eisner never found a #2 he was comfortable with after Wells died and that certainly attributed to some of the floundering in the company in recent years. The bull-headedness with Katzenberg didn't help matters either.

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Friday, September 10, 2004 3:59 PM
Alright....I'll give credit to Eisner for making it as big as it is, but it seems to me that the decisions that have been made in the recent years, have not been the best. His time has just been up for a few years.
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Friday, September 10, 2004 4:01 PM
I'm not trying to downplay the importance of 9/11 in any way... the reason I referred to it as a lousy excuse for Disney's declining theme park numbers is because Disney's theme park numbers were declining way before the events of 9/11. Actually, the nation's economy as a whole was headed downhill before 9/11.

September 11th was one of the most horribe days in the history of this country as well as the world as a whole. It just irritates me when people use "9/11" as an excuse for everything that goes wrong. Bad economy. Declining theme park attendance. Sagging car sales. Unemployment. People consistently slap the faces of those that were most effected by the events of that day by blaming every single thing on it. A lot of people use it as a crutch to explain other shortcomings that they usually had something to do with.

One of Eisner's biggest problems seems to be that he never seemed to feel comfortable with the idea of a #2. Of course, I don't work with Eisner so I suppose that sounds pretty hilarious.

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Friday, September 10, 2004 4:07 PM
YYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYY!!!

bout dang time!!

too bad it's coming too late to salvage the Pixar and Miramax relationshipes, or to salvage what was left of the animation department...

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Friday, September 10, 2004 4:09 PM
Rob, you made my argument for me. If the nation's economy was headed downhill before 9/11 it stands to reason that pre 9/11 attendance numbers at the parks would have been falling too.

I don't think 9/11 is used as a crutch by most. If anything, I think people forget just how significant that day was and take for granted the recovery that has been made both in New York and around the country.

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Friday, September 10, 2004 4:27 PM
Jeff's avatar I was in Orlando a month after 9/11. To say it didn't kick the Orlando theme parks in the balls, take it's wallet and then pee all over it is crazy.

Anyway, I don't buy into the Eisner hating. I think that theme park spending was prudent for the times. The only major screw up in his 20 years that I would call out is the decay of the animation unit. That was screwed up.

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Friday, September 10, 2004 4:37 PM
I didn't say that 9/11 didn't hurt Orlando tourism. I'm just pointing out that it was not as robust in the months prior to 9/11 as it was a few years earlier.

I agree that the theme park spending was prudent... at least to a point. Going on a building spree and getting people used to the idea of a new theme park/theme park attraction every six months and then suddenly cutting back drastically wasn't the wisest move. Why get people used to something that you know can't be sustained forever? That's like trying to sell cars with $5000 discounts and then taking the discounts away and expecting sales to remain the same. And lets not forget that while new rides were built, the old standards of Disney theme parks were forgotten simply to save a few dollars and pad the bottom line. Penny wise and dollar stupid.

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Saturday, September 11, 2004 1:06 PM
Really Jeff? I'd say decay is the key word here across the company. His neglect of the theme park division is a pretty big screw up. Under the watch of execs he hired, he allowed maintenance to take a back seat so that Disneyland decayed to the point that it is taking more money to fix it then if they had just looked after it right to begin with. They also went from having really big plans for the 50th anniversary of Disneyland, to a weak celebration that is less exciting then what they did for the 35th! Then there are poorly planned parks like DCA and Disney Studio in Paris. When a park opens with tons of places to eat that are soon shuttered and left vacant I wouldn't call that a success. That's a screw up.

Like the animation unit, the imaginers have also experienced decay, resulting in off the shelf rides being used more and more in very un-Disney ways. (Reverchon spinning coasters?). And just like the animation unit, this was the company’s bread and butter. And both were allowed to slip. So I would call that a pretty big screw up. Taking the two things you company is known for and reducing them to just about nothing? Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water. He should be fired for this reason alone.

Then there are things like ABC. So you think that is not a major screw up? That network has been a mess for years, with no direction and little focus. I’d say it's a pretty big screw up when a network looks to one show (Millionaire) to come to their rescue. And then overexposed that show so much that it ended up being as impotent as everything else on the network.

Animation the only screw up? Hardly.

*** This post was edited by Coasterbuf 9/11/2004 1:07:42 PM ***

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