I just wanted to share my personal opinions with everyone over the press release Al was so kind as to post on MiceAge. My comments are in red.
Disney Press Release Naming Iger as New CEO
BURBANK, Calif.--March 13, 2005--The Walt Disney Company Board of Directors announced today that Robert A. Iger has been unanimously elected Chief Executive Officer effective September 30, 2005. He will succeed Michael D. Eisner, current CEO, who announced his intention to retire in a letter to the Board last year dated September 9, and will step down as CEO on September 30, 2005.LETTER DATED MARCH 13, 2005 FROM MICHAEL D. EISNER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY TO MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
"After a lengthy, thorough and professional selection process, comparing both internal and external candidates against our criteria for CEO, I am pleased to announce the decision of the Walt Disney Board of Directors to select Robert Iger as the company's next chief executive officer," Lengthy, thorough and proffesional? I mean, come on. And what, praytell, was the criteria for CEO? "Sounds like Eisner" perhaps? And obviosly given the fact that a book saying how bad he would be has just come out, this is a great time to announce him being the new CEO. This is like the last presidential election all over again. said Sen. George J. Mitchell, chairman of The Walt Disney Company Board of Directors. "Bob is an experienced, talented and visionary leader who has made crucial and substantial contributions toward Disney's strong performance. I cant think of any, can you? On behalf of the entire Board, I want to express how excited we are at the prospect of Bob leading this extraordinary company and talented management team Talented management team? to new levels of financial and creative success in the years ahead." Given the great creative successes Disney has enjoyed lately.
"It is truly an honor to be entrusted with the responsibility of guiding this great company that occupies such an important place in the hearts and minds of millions the world over toward a very bright future," said Iger. "It's also an honor to work with our incredibly talented and dedicated worldwide team. I feel all the more privileged to succeed Michael, whose tremendous 20-year leadership and enormous accomplishments have built this company into the world's preeminent leader in family entertainment." No, Eisner took what was the world's preeminent leader in family entertainment and proceeded to kill of the animation department and now Disney is the world's preeminent leader in direct-to-video failures.
"It is with a considerable amount of satisfaction and even pride that I approach the end of my term as CEO of this company," What! He's been avoiding stepping down for years! The only reason he "stepped down" was to make it look like he wasn't going to get fired anyway. said Michael D. Eisner, former chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company. "By every financial and creative measure, Disney is performing at its peak. Financial is arguable. Creative? Creativity is at it's peak? Since when? You haven't come up with a hit in years and you just laid off the majority of the animation department. I have enjoyed virtually virtually? every moment of my tenure and want to express my appreciation to the phenomenal colleagues with whom I have been privileged to work. I believe Disney is now poised for its brightest days in the years ahead under the able and insightful leadership of Bob, who has not only the qualities to succeed, but also has a keen sense of the Disney brand and how to maintain its leadership position and grow it on a worldwide scale." I'm not even sure Eisner has a keen sense of the Disney brand.
The election of Mr. Iger culminates a lengthy and detailed CEO selection process six months is legthy? and only to declare Iger as CEO? that started formally when the Disney Board announced on September 21, 2004 that it would, "engage in a thorough, careful, and reasoned process to select as the next CEO the best person for the company, its shareholders, employees, customers, and for the many millions of others who care so much about The Walt Disney Company. By carefull, thorough and reasoned, do they mean whatever will please Eisner. The Board is keenly aware of the special place our company holds in the hearts of people all over the world and the importance of its responsibility in choosing a CEO." The Board also made known that day its intention to "complete the process and announce a successor as soon as possible, with an expected date of completion of June 2005.".
Directors selected the executive search firm of Heidrick & Struggles in October 2004 in order to assist with the CEO selection process.
"The search and the process for considering potential candidates was thorough and exhaustive and met the most rigorous standards," said Gerard Roche, senior chairman, Heidrick & Struggles.
TO: The Directors of the Walt Disney Company:Ok, so obviosly I'm not exactly for Iger, but hey, who knows what could happen? Maybe Iger will do a great job. These are just my opinions, and Iger, I fully encourage you to prove me wrong. In the mean time...
After nearly 21 years as CEO of The Walt Disney Company, it is with a wide range of positive emotions that I welcome the Board of Directors' announcement of my successor, Bob Iger. As the Board has wisely concluded, Bob is an extraordinary executive with 30 years of experience in the entertainment industry and is uniquely qualified to take charge of this incredible company. As president during the past five years, he has provided steady and inspired leadership as he helped steer Disney through a storm of challenges, bringing the company to its current thriving condition in the calm waters and bright skies of financial and creative success. I wonder why the stock dropped as soon as he was announced as CEO. As you well know, last year alone, we delivered earnings per share growth of more than 60%, resulting in record earnings and free cash flow. This fiscal year, we will deliver double digit earnings growth and again post record-high earnings. From a shareholder perspective, Disney has outperformed the other three major media companies over the last five year, three year, and one year periods.
So, it is with a considerable amount of satisfaction and even pride that I approach the end of my term as CEO of this company. There is a tinge of sadness added to these emotions, similar to the feeling one experiences at the end of a great day at Disneyland as one pulls into the station after the final E-ticket ride. Because we all know of Eisner's great love for Disneyland.
And what a ride this has been. In 1984, the company had a $2 billion equity market cap. Today, it is nearly $60 billion. Revenues were $1.5 billion; in 2004, they surpassed $30 billion. Net income was $98 million; last year, it was more than $2.3 billion.
Our creative achievements around the world in the fields of film, broadcast and cable television, consumer products and theme parks have been exceptional, driving compound annual returns for Disney stock since 1984 of 17.3%, versus the S&P 500's 13.0%. More recently, despite that storm of challenges, Disney investors have been rewarded with a 6.5% annual return during the past three years, compared to the S&P 500's 3.0%, and in the last year with 11.6% versus the S&P's 10.3%.
Disney's remarkable financial and creative growth has been achieved by a phenomenal management team. We currently have in place a group of executives who are focused, able and experienced at doing whatever Eisner wants. They have kept the company moving forward and have not been distracted by the combustion of world events or the noise of Hollywood gossip Oh, I'm sure. These are seasoned individuals who have the vision to set lofty goals and the leadership to achieve them. They know the receptivity, the affection and the respect the Disney name and products command from continent to continent. We can count on them to continue to distribute creativity throughout the world, intellectual excellence throughout the world, ESPN and Disney throughout the world. Hong Kong Disneyland (our front door to China), opening on Sept 12th of this year, along with the resort around it, is but one example.
Bob will now continue the momentum of the company and put his own visionary imprint on it as he launches Disney into the future. As I have told Bob and all of you, I am available to assist in a seamless and orderly transition. Although I intend to remain as a Disney director until the annual meeting of 2006, I will not make a request of the Board to nominate me for an additional term nor will I seek the chairmanship of the company after the retirement of Senator Mitchell.
This brings me to yet another emotion I feel as the transition begins -- excitement, excitement about a book I wrote called "Camp," which gets released on Father's Day and perhaps will lead to the camp of my youth, Keewaydin, hiring me as a counselor again, excitement that my oldest son Breck got engaged to Georgia Irwin yesterday just four weeks before "Sahara," a film he directed, gets released by Paramount Pictures, excitement about all the possibilities I see before me. As much as I have loved nearly every minute of my tenure at Disney, two decades is enough time to spend as a chief executive officer of one company. I'm ready to move on and climb new mountains, while always being available to help Disney in any way I can Eisner, I think you've helped enough. Beginning October 1, I expect to clean off my hiking boots, re-stock my Mickey Mouse backpack and start surveying some of the other peaks that are on the horizon.
I thank members of our management team, our entire cast, our shareholders, and the men and women who serve or have served on our Board for their enthusiasm and support for The Walt Disney Company. And mostly I thank Walt Disney for bringing to us a culture and a mouse.