At the end of the business day today, Michael Eisner officially stepped down from his position as CEO with this email message (below -- in it's entirety). From here, he will consult for the company at least until this coming February at which time he will decide whether to stay on or retire from the company altogether.
Email from Michael Eisner to ALL Disney Company Email Users Worldwide:
I'm sitting in my office thinking about how much I have enjoyed working with the people who make up this company. I am about to pack up 21 years of pictures, books and letters and other Disney memorabilia from around the world that hopefully my great grandchildren will not sell on eBay. In the meantime, I will use these objects to trigger fantastic memories of my two decades sitting under the roof supported by the Seven Dwarfs in the Team Disney Building.
I've learned so much over all these years from my partnership with you, from how to build theme parks to how the evening news is put together, from building an animated movie to building a legitimate theater on 42nd Street, from the revitalization of the 100 Acre Wood to the build-out of the thousands of acres of swamps and beet farms and landfill of Florida, Paris and Hong Kong, and even learning what a World Series ring looks like. I even finally learned the precise relationship of Huey, Dewey and Louie to Donald Duck. But I never really learned how to master reading a TV teleprompter. There is still time.
In 1984, there was plenty of room in my brain to acquire this much-needed knowledge. At my first speech on the first day on the Burbank lot, at the old gazebo, I met my first cast member, Angela Philo, and asked what department she was in. Her response, "BVD." "Wow,” I responded, “I didn't know Disney owned an underwear company."
And it was in search of knowledge during those first few weeks that I met almost everybody who worked for the company, 28,000 at the time, and learned that this iconic institution had the most dedicated and talented and enthusiastic group of people I had seen since I left camp as a staff member for the last time in 1964. There are now 129,000 of us, diverse, unique, and of course proud to be creating the magic.
I wish to thank all of you for your good spirits, your fantastic pride and sense of duty working for this wonderful company. From what we do on the big and little screens to how we program our radio and television stations, from what we do on ESPN and all our world-wide cable channels to how we treat our guest in our parks, nobody does it like you. From how we develop our consumer products to how we imagine our attractions, from how we design our computer-generated worlds to how we envision our business strategies, nobody does it like you. And from the growth of our architecture to the management of our financial and legal lives, from our publishing and music operations to our emerging Internet opportunities, from every morning until every next morning, nobody does all of this as well as you. And you do it all over the world.
This company, which I so love, is poised for a tremendous future, with superb management at all levels, entrusted to the brilliant and steady chief executive officer, Bob Iger. I want to thank everybody for letting me share a piece of your lives for two decades.
While I leave Disney with less hair than I had when I arrived, I do know creative inquisitiveness never ages or tires. I feel as optimistic as I did on Oct 1, 1984.
By the way, I have since learned that BVD stands for Buena Vista Distribution.
Good luck, and go see "Chicken Little."