Rise and fall of 'Emperor Eisner'
Thursday 12 February 2004
By almost anyone's standards, Michael Eisner had a good first decade at the Walt Disney Company. He faced a hard task after being appointed chief executive in 1984, trying to turn around an icon of American entertainment under the long shadow of the family dynasty that first introduced the mouse to the world.
In those days, Mr Eisner even got on well with Roy Disney, the nephew of Walt, who was among those who championed giving him the job. But after 1994, his relationship with Roy, the last family member of the board, began to sour and the fortunes of the company started to gyrate.
That year, his hugely respected right-hand man, Frank Wells, was killed in a helicopter crash. Also in 1994, the company plunged into the maelstrom of media consolidation still playing out today with its massively expensive acquisition of ABC television. That deal gave Disney the ESPN sports networks that have been cash cows. But ABC itself has been in the ratings ditch since.
Some would say Mr Eisner's first major misstep came in 1992 when he opened Euro-Disney outside Paris. The venture was not a success financially or with the public. Critics said Mr Eisner chose Paris because of government incentives, when he should have chosen somewhere with a better climate, say, Barcelona. But it has been the management style of Mr Eisner that has most irked Mr Disney, his allies and Wall Street.
He has been accused of padding the Disney board with cronies. And questions have been multiplying over his failure to institute a succession plan at the company. His answer until recently was that he had a name in a sealed envelope for the day he departs. Now he says Disney is looking for candidates to replace him.
Mr Disney, who called him "Emperor Eisner", says: "The company is rapacious, soul-less, and always looking for the 'quick buck' rather than long-term value which is leading to a loss of public trust."
Daniel Gross, who writes financial comment for Slate, the online magazine, said: "Eisner looks like a miserly bean-counter intent on putting out entertainment that is derivative, cheap, and easily digestible."
- 1 'Kidnapped boy may have been abused and murdered by VIP paedophile ring,' say police
- 2 Ridley Scott on Exodus, Gods and Kings casting: 'I'm not going to get it financed if my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such'
- 3 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
- 4 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 5 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, PC World, GAME and Argos
Miss Honduras Maria Jose Alvarado's stylist Luis Alfredo Garcia is found stabbed to death
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict
iJobs Money & Business
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...
Negotiable: h2 Recruit Ltd: A rapidly expanding, global Software/ SaaS Vendor ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £Competitive: SThree: SThree Group and have be...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Langley James : IT Support; Helpdesk, VMware; Manch...