Disney’s Bob Iger on How to Create a Success Story in the Tech Age

During Bob Iger’s tenure at Disney, he made several major deals with prominent personalities, including the acquisition of Steve Jobs’s Pixar and 21tst Century Fox assets from Rupert Murdoch.

In a recent interview with CNBC’s David Faber against the backdrop of a full-blown Millennium Falcon at Disney’s Edge of the Galaxy, outgoing Disney chairman Bob Iger said there is an important narrative to all of his big deals: the need to scale up both. platform and intellectual property in the era of technological breakthroughs.

“It set us on a path to achieving what I wanted to achieve, which was scale when it came to storytelling,” Yeager told CNBC.

“Successful and effective storytelling engine” is a business model that has changed in the era of technological breakthroughs. “I’ve never seen the world change or change as quickly as the one we live in today,” Yeager said.

Back in 2005, Iger says he saw a world that would change dramatically thanks to technology. And he thought about how that might affect Disney, and it’s not only a threat, but an opportunity.

“It was very, very clear to me that technology would enable us to tell more stories to more people,” he said. “In fact, this scenario of a world in which technology that allows more storytelling exists today is probably even more prevalent,” Eager said.

Attendees visit the Disney + streaming service booth at D23 Expo on August 23, 2019 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California.

ROBIN BECK | AFP | Getty Images

Yeager was not the only media titan who thought in this direction. “Rupert was very focused on the scale that was needed to be successful,” Iger said of his deal with Rupert Murdoch for 21st Century Fox entertainment assets. “As a media company in a new world, especially with the invasion, if you want to call it that, of tech companies infiltrating the media space.”

“He was genuinely worried about how his company was positioning in this market,” Eager said. “I know he did it because he expressed them to me when we first sat down.”

When Disney closed its deal with Fox, Iger said it did so through the lens of the need to scale to be successful in direct-to-consumer digital platforms.

“None of this was seen as a traditional media game,” Yeager said. We knew that we would run the purchased business on traditional platforms with traditional business models. But in terms of value creation, this has all been linked to the growth of digital platforms that are directly targeting the consumer around the world, ”he added.

According to Iger, a string of major acquisitions have focused on developing the ability and intellectual property to tell stories through technology platforms such as Disney +, enabling Disney to reach more people in more markets worldwide than ever before, with more IP.

As the company’s Star Direct-to-Consumer platform expands into international markets, “it couldn’t have happened without Fox’s assets,” he said.

The growth of the tech giants has turned out to be even greater than Iger predicted, and it will continue to force traditional media companies to think and act like digital companies. “What we are seeing today in terms of the scale of these companies in the media space, which probably should not surprise us, but the scale of it all is still simply overwhelming,” he said.

The shift to direct digital entertainment means that the expansion of this business is a growth driver, not traditional media platforms, and the ongoing digital transformation will further “erode traditional media platforms,” ​​he said.

“You have to keep an eye on the technologies and audiences that use that technology,” Yeager said. “We are raising a generation of people … who are much more accustomed to user interface, navigation and choice … Among what I have seen in terms of changes in the industry during my time in business is a huge change of power from distributor and creator to to the consumer “.

“App-based home entertainment is replacing linear channel usage in the home … they are actually being destroyed right before our eyes,” he said.

The threat of technological disruption is no longer new, Yeager said, but it shouldn’t be underestimated either. “I’ve used the word invasion before, but, you know, the massive growth of new platforms that came completely unattached to any old business model, completely.”

“What these companies have achieved in terms of scale and size, I think, says a lot about the world. We’re used to talking about Moore’s Law and how quickly things grew. Computing power is one thing. But I think when we look at all the factors that have driven technological growth, we should probably have predicted how big these companies could get, ”he said.

Even after all the deals made during Disney Iger, more stories will be needed, more competition, and more threats to Disney’s continued success.

“We have to keep developing,” Iger said.

During the interview, he noted that streaming storytelling is beginning to make an impact across the world that was once possible only through theatrical releases, and cited South Korea’s Netflix Squid Game as an example of this shift in the global economic balance. the power between big and small screen storytelling.

He described the investment Disney is currently making in local international television production “significantly more than anything we’ve ever done before.”

“This is an example of what is needed to achieve not only [subscriber] “, – he said.

One of the leadership lessons Iger learned early in his tenure as CEO was to think more like a destroyer than a destroyer, which he said will remain critical even for companies the size of Disney.

“One thing is clear: anyone who stands in the way of innovation or adapting to change will create problems, any company, any person. It’s really that important, ”he said.

In an interview with CNBC, Iger noted that among the reasons he decided it was time to relinquish control of the company was the feeling that he had become too dismissive of other people’s opinions. “As time went on, I began to listen less and perhaps less tolerant of other people’s opinions, maybe because I became a little more self-confident about my own, which sometimes happens when you pile up,” he said.

“I used to talk about characters and rebels. We were acting leaders, they were rebels. And someone advised me when I became CEO of the company: “Act like a rebel, not like the incumbent president.” Because the position held … in a world that is changing so much, it is not a profitable strategy. “

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