Saturday, September 28, 2013
Disney 'Agnostic' On IT Partners: CEO Iger
LOS ANGELES (Nikkei)--Walt Disney Co. looks "expansively" at technology companies as a means of delivering its content to consumers, says Robert Iger, now in his eighth year as chief executive officer.
Under his leadership, the California-based multinational has made a bold series of deals, including last year's acquisition of Lucasfilm, the company behind the "Star Wars" empire. Disney's market capitalization has more than doubled to roughly 120 billion dollars, or about 12 trillion yen, during Iger's tenure.
- Robert Iger
"While we were growing these last eight years, we were also making very, very significant investments in our future," he told The Nikkei in a recent interview.
Iger points to the addition of Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, calling them a "collection of great storytellers, great characters and great brands" that will continue "to power Disney's growth."
Iger said Disney has had a "close relationship" with Apple Inc., on whose board he sits. Before the iPhone and the iPad, Disney made its television shows available for the iPod. Coincidentally, Disney later bought Pixar, and Steve Jobs, a founder of both the animation studio and Apple, became Disney's largest shareholder, Iger said. Disney and Apple share "an understanding that the intersection of technology and intellectual property ... is very powerful," he added.
That said, Iger called Disney "agnostic" toward technology companies. "We don't enter into many exclusive relationships," he explained. He said Disney has a relationship with Google Inc. and a partnership with its video sharing website YouTube. Disney is looking for tech companies that offer "a platform that is user-friendly for the consumer" and, he stressed, that "respects intellectual property."
Technology has brought about "a huge shift in authority from the creator of content and distributor of content to the user," Iger said. Consumers can now dictate how and when they enjoy content and how much they pay for it, he explained.
Next month, Japan will become the first country other than the U.S. to host a D23 Expo, a special event for Disney fans featuring musical performances as well as presentations by Disney executives.
"If there's another place in the world that D23 can occur, it's Japan," Iger said, noting Disney's long history in Japan -- Tokyo Disneyland recently turned 30 -- and the country's "great Disney fans."
If successful, Disney may stage future D23 events in Japan, Iger said.
(The Nikkei, Sept. 28 morning edition)