The CEO's Worst Nightmare (12/4/03)

All is not well in the Magic Kingdom, and the more we hear about Disney's continuing nightmare in the boardroom, the more we suspect that this topic might soon become more than just slightly on-topic here before long. If you're just tuning in, Disney board member (and nephew of Walt's cryonically-frozen head) Roy Disney was recently ousted by CEO Michael Eisner and his Pack o' Thugs™, ostensibly because Roy was past Disney's mandatory retirement age. However, board member Stanley Gold accused Eisner of canning Roy only because the guy was too critical of Eisner's lousy performance; Stan then resigned in disgust. Ooooo, it's like Dynasty! Except maybe without the steely gaze of John Forsythe.

Now, so far, the only connection this mess has to Apple is Stan's incidental allegation that, while badmouthing Stan and Roy, Eisner also called Steve Jobs a "Shiite Muslim" in reference to his "extreme" views. It's pretty random, we know, but hey, we take what we can get-- even though with Eisner, namecalling sounds more like a behavioral rule than an exception. (Faithful viewer Ray Kloss points out that the New York Post is following the boardroom collapse in Mouseville, and reports that one "insider" insists that Eisner disliked Roy Disney thoroughly enough to have referred to him as "the idiot nephew." So much for respecting one's elders.) At the time we mentioned that Steve's name coming up was probably just due to tensions at those ongoing Pixar negotiations, but we wouldn't write off the slim possibility that Eisner was fearing for his job. CEOs-- smart ones, anyway-- start to get nervous career-wise when Jobs is skulking around.

Well, it's starting to look like maybe our fanciful "Eisner on the run" scenario wasn't too far off the mark after all. According to the Post, Disney might well be feeling a little pressure from shareholders to put some freakin' leadership in place, either by filling the ten-years-vacant position of president or at least by patching the gaping holes now left in its board of directors. And guess who "Hollywood rumors" name as Wall Street's and Tinseltown's "most welcome" choice to become the new Disney Prez? That's right, the Stevester: front-runner to be Disney's "second-in-charge and nominal successor to Eisner." Holy swiveling 2D circular mouse ears, Batman!

Stranger things have happened. Reportedly "speculation that the Disney Co. would be forced to offer Jobs a position-- if only a seat on the board-- intensified" as Roy and Stanley vacated the premises early in the week. See, Disney has become increasingly dependent on Pixar-derived profits in recent years (well over a billion bucks, we're told), but the Disney-Pixar contract ends in 2005 and Steve is currently shopping around for better partnerships, so he's got a lot of hand right now. Given that investors are probably already looking askance at Disney's current state of upheaval, losing Pixar might well plunge Disney's stock price so far down through the earth's core that Satan will be using it as a spoon-rest. And you all know Steve; if he accepts the Disney presidency, Eisner would likely be gone so fast he'd leave a small sonic boom in his wake.

Heck, even with only a seat on the board it'd probably be a simple matter for Steve to pull another Amelio. No wonder Eisner's spooked; he's about three bad days away from "Would you like fries with that?"

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The above scene was taken from the 12/4/03 episode:

December 4, 2003: Rumors heat up regarding a spot on Disney's board of directors for Steve Jobs-- or maybe even a gig as president. Meanwhile, speculation surrounding next month's Expo is pretty tame, but at least there are whispers about new G5s getting ready for a Stevenote intro. And one report claims that Apple is looking to build high-speed cellular data capability for its portables-- might that also be related to a handheld wireless videoconferencing device down the line, or has lack of sleep just made us credulous?...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 4371: A Tragic Dearth Of Fiction (12/4/03)   Other than blindingly entertaining boardroom melodrama at Disney, things are surprisingly quiet in Macville right now. Why "surprisingly," you ask? Because Macworld Expo is only a month away, we answer, and frankly, we'd have expected some serious pre-Stevenote speculation to be building nicely by now...

  • 4372: Watch; The Rhino's Real (12/4/03)   As for rumors that look well past next month's Macworld Expo, do you remember yesterday's whispers about Apple allegedly working on "a product that will allow users to videoconference with friends wirelessly from the palm of their hand"?...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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