Eisner: Running For Cover (1/30/04)

Excuse our lack of focus, but we're a little distracted right now, and for once, it's not by a shiny thing we spotted on the dresser. We were actually trying to move some funds around-- you know, pull together our liquid assets, make our money work for us, all that malarkey. Our current scheme involves buying shares in most of the larger antacid companies, because after last night, we anticipate that short-term per capita consumption of Mylanta, Rolaids, and other gastrointestinal remedies will increase by a minimum of 12%, and that's just due to Michael Eisner alone! It's a risk, we admit, since Eisner might opt for other courses of action instead of trying to calm his stomach, but that's why we're diversifying: we're also investing in the hard liquor companies and the nation's three largest manufacturers of suicide machines.

What, you haven't heard? Faithful viewer The Vole notes a CNN/Money article which reveals that Uncle Steve just gave Disney the kiss-off. You may recall that Pixar's contract with The Round-Eared Mouse expires as of the end of next year, and Steve and Disney CEO Eisner have been in negotiations for ages, now. Steve had enormous leverage, too, since Pixar films had reportedly brought Disney over a billion dollars in profit over the years-- and that was before the phenomenal success of Finding Nemo. If Steve decided to take his ball and go play with some other distributor, Disney would be in a world of hurt.

Oh, wait, did we say "would be"? Make that "is," because apparently Eisner thought Steve was bluffing or something (oooooo, bad mistake), and now, as of 2006, Pixar and Disney are officially splitsville. And while Pixar's stock rose 80 cents in after-hours trading (and today is up a whopping $2.72 at last check), immediately after the news broke, Disney's shares fell by almost 5%, which is marketspeak for "Disney's investors want Eisner's head on a stick."

So what does this have to do with us, you ask? Well, aside from the fact that Steve is CEO of both Pixar and Apple, there are some clear implications as far as that old "Disney buys Apple" rumor that surfaces from time to time-- especially one of its more intriguing variants, the "Steve runs Disney" spin-off. After all, Eisner just blew one of Disney's biggest deals; CEOs have been fired for less. And we aren't the only ones going "hmmmm": faithful viewer Adam Bestic points to a New York Times article reporting that "one film executive suggested that Mr. Jobs could now be considered a candidate to run Disney if indeed Mr. Eisner ever left."

Gee, what a coincidence! And what a time for Steve to announce the end of the Pixar-Disney partnership: while he could have ended things at any time during the past ten months of talks, he waited until mere days after former Disney directors Stan Gold and Roy Disney (yes, the same ones that left Disney last month and remarked that Eisner had called Steve a "Shiite Muslim") "called on shareholders to oust Mr. Eisner at Disney's annual meeting in March." When the "Shiite Muslim" thing hit at the beginning of December we remarked on the possibility that Eisner might be "fearing for his job" and noted that "CEOs-- smart ones, anyway-- start to get nervous career-wise when Jobs is skulking around." Is anyone else's Spider-Sense tingling? Why do we get the feeling that Gil Amelio is reading about Eisner's troubles and experiencing a mild twinge of déjà vu?

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The above scene was taken from the 1/30/04 episode:

January 30, 2004: A QuickTime version of Pepsi's iTunes Super Bowl ad hits the 'net, so start downloading. Meanwhile, Pixar splits from Disney, leaving Michael Eisner holding the bag, and the FBI acknowledges that criminals looking to frustrate the feds should use Macs for their crimes...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 4478: Pepsi's Pre-Freak Sneview (1/30/04)   Super Bowl Sunday is just a couple of days away, and you know what that means: Sunday is Mall-To-Yourself Day! That is, unless you happen to be one of the 100 million people who wants to watch the game and/or the commercials...

  • 4480: Selling To Feds And Felons (1/30/04)   Okay, now this is just a crying shame: remember how on the earlier seasons of "The X-Files" agents Mulder and Scully were often seen using Macs, such as the PowerBook that Scully used to compile her field reports about the ghosts of shapeshifting aliens with corrosive snot that haunt the colony of Bigfoot's clones deep beneath Area 51?...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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