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In this week's feature, Steven Ng joined Mark to discuss last week's annual shareholder meeting of The Walt Disney Company, held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mike was unavailable for personal reasons.
First, we heard a voicemail from listener Kevin Peace, who attended the shareholder meeting with his wife, Timbra. Kevin gave a good overview of the entire meeting, and he seemed to really be happy with how the meeting went. In comparison, Mark was very surprised at how quickly the meeting went, almost as if it were a race. He compared it to the length of the previous four meetings to explain how short this meeting actually was, and linked it to the Steve Jobs "Cone of Silence" descending upon the company.
We played a clip of Disney Chairman John Pepper, Jr. giving an overview of the company. Steven and Mark picked up on Pepper's addressing of Disney's technology focus and discussed the company's use of new distribution channels. Mark pointed to Disney CEO Robert Iger's personal love of technology and noted that it helped to add to the focus. Mark also noted that he had written years ago, when Iger was first named heir-apparent, that he didn't need to be the all-reaching creative center of the company, but rather just set the main vision and let the people running the divisions of the company innovate within their specialties to meet the vision.
Bob Iger was next on the stage. After talking about the "Disney Difference" using pretty much the same information as on the first quarter earnings conference call, he discussed some upcoming projects, specifically mentioning various virtual worlds on Disney.com, upgrades at the theme parks, the 2 new cruise ships, the DVC resort in Hawaii, and upcoming TV and theatrical movie releases.
Mark and Steven then discussed the new projects in light of the recession that is either approaching or already here.
Next, we listened to a clip of shareholder Dwight Morgan from Pasadena, California, who suggested the possibility of a worldwide annual passport. Pepper and Iger appeared to respond enthusiastically, and according to Kevin Peace, it was the only item during the Q&A from which Pepper and Iger actually made notes to themselves. Steven and Mark discussed the possibility of either a worldwide pass or at least an all-U.S. parks pass in light of the accounting difficulties posed by such a pass.
Matthew San Agresti of Pasadena, California, asked about the status of a third park in Anaheim or other 12th resort around the world. Iger noted that, while Disney is still examining various locations around the world for parks and site-based entertainment. A third gate is not currently being developed for Anaheim, but a lot of effort is being put into redoing Disney's California Adventure.
Steven and Mark talked about Disney's previous attempt to counter every successful competitive environment, and how now they seem to be sitting back and evaluating the success and business of new competition
Shareholder Linda Staubner from New Mexico asked whether the really old Disney TV shows could be made available again. Iger said that they are developing a "Classic Disney" project to run on Disney.com. Steven and Mark talked about what this might mean for the end user.
A question was asked by shareholder Scott Hickson about Disney's stance on the many podcasts out there (in addition to a request for information on whether or not the company was planning a third Fantasia film. Iger responded that as far as he knew, there were no plans to make a Fantasia 3. In terms of podcasts, Iger noted that Disney is looking to strengthen Disney's ties to its fans through various methods, including working with "the group behind Disneyana."
Mark noticed that Iger's response more addressed the NFFC than the podcasts. However, he really can't complain about Disney's cooperation in getting people for the podcast, as they have been very willing to help him line up interviews for the show. It seems that right now Disney is focusing on working with larger organizations and sites with higher readership. Steven also noted that he was pleased with the ability for MousePlanet staff to also attend various events at Disneyland. After a bit more discussion on the topic, we wrapped our coverage.
Mark noted that his next research trip to Walt Disney World will be May 15-18. If any listeners will be at the parks in Florida at the same time and want to get together, they should send him an email.
Let us know what you think about the shareholder meeting and the various topics presented there! Let us know by sending an email or calling our toll-free feedback line (1-866-939-2278) and let us know what you think!
On April 27, Mark will be walking to raise money for the March of Dimes for the third time. Please consider supporting him. The March of Dimes mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.
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The MouseStation crew (@MouseStation) currently consists of Mark Goldhaber (@MPMark) and Mike Demopoulos (@MPMike).