Walt Disney Case

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9-701-035 REV: JULY 25, 2001 D MICHAEL G. RUKSTAD DAVID COLLIS O The Walt Disney Company: The Entertainment King I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing—that it was all started by a mouse. —Walt Disney The Walt Disney Company’s rebirth under Michael Eisner was widely considered to be one of the th great turnaround stories of the late 20 century. When Eisner arrived in 1984, Disney was languishing and had narrowly avoided takeover and dismemberment. By the end of 2000, however, revenues had climbed from $1.65 billion to $25 billion under Eisner, while net earnings had risen from $0.1 billion to $1.2 billion (see Exhibit 1). During Eisner’s first 15 years, Disney generated a 27% annual total 1 return to…show more content…
The result was Mickey Mouse. When Mickey failed to elicit much interest, Walt tried to attract a distributor by adding synchronized sound—something that had 8,9 never been attempted in a cartoon. His gamble paid off handsomely with the release of Steamboat 10 Willie in 1928. Overnight, Mickey Mouse became an international sensation known variously as “Topolino” (Italy), “Raton Mickey” (Spain), and “Musse Pigg” (Sweden). However, the company was still strapped for cash, so it licensed Mickey Mouse for the cover of a pencil tablet—the first of many such licensing agreements. Over time, as short-term cash problems subsided, Disney began to worry 11 about brand equity and thus licensed its name only to “the best companies.” The Disney brothers ran their company as a flat, non-hierarchical organization, in which everyone, including Walt, used their first names and no one had titles. “You don’t have to have a title,” said 12 Walt. “If you’re important to the company, you’ll know it.” Although a taskmaster driven to achieve creativity and quality, Walt emphasized teamwork, communication, and cooperation. He pushed 13 himself and his staff so hard that he suffered a nervous breakdown in 1931. However, many workers were fiercely committed to the company. Despite winning six Academy Awards and successfully introducing new characters such as Goofy and Donald Duck, Walt realized
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