Disney and Stanley Gold hold spirited rally day before shareholder meeting
March 3, 2004
by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer
Update, March 3: Disney shareholders exceed all analyst predictions
as Michael Eisner receives an unprecedented 43.3
percent vote of no confidence at the Walt Disney
Company's annual shareholder meeting held in
Philadelphia Wednesday. Stay tuned tomorrow
for our on-scene coverage from editor Mark Goldhaber.
Join our many discussions on this topic in our
Business of Magic forum
on our MousePad discussion board.
By their unprecedented show of support, one might have wondered if they
were Presidential candidates stumping for votes on Super Tuesday. Instead, the
crowd was the Disney faithfulover 1,500 of themwho lined up to hear
Roy E. Disney and Stanley P. Gold speak at a rally in a ballroom at the Loews
Philadelphia Hotel yesterday afternoon.
The lines snaked down from the
top of the wide staircase, out the door, down the block, around the corner, and
up the next block. And when the ballroom filled to capacity after accommodating
only half of those in line and after an additional 200 were directed to an adjacent
overflow room, 500 to 600 more found themselves left out in the cold.
to John Grimaldi of the Save Disney campaign, when Roy Disney heard that there
were people who could not make it inside, he decided, much to the dismay of his
security detail, to go outside to greet and thank the supporters himself.
The line of shareholders fills the stairway and the street, all the way around
the corner and up the block. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Meanwhile, back in
the ballroom, guests were treated to a speech by Stanley Gold, a humorous slideshow
presentation of old Disneyland photos, a financial presentation by Mike McConnell
(Managing Director of Shamrock Holdings, Roy's investment company), a speech by
Roy Disney, and a question-and-answer period with Gene Krieger (Vice Chairman
of Shamrock Holdings) reading questions posed by the audience to a panel of Disney,
Gold, and Mike McConnell.
Save Disney banners greet shareholders in the ballroom. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Disney, who was greeted with a standing ovation, gave his thoughts on what he
would like to see happen to the company.
There's a pretty long list
of changes we'd all like to see. For instance, I think the short list would include
management. We know that for sure, Disney said, Improving the cleanliness,
the maintenance and the guest services in the parks, and that would include putting
the smile back on the faces of both cast members and our guests.
audience broke into wild applause.
cleanliness, the maintenance and the guest services in the parks, and that would
include putting the smile back on the faces of both cast members and our guests.
Making better movies and television shows, especially in
feature animation. Fixing the ABC Network and dragging it out of its perennial
fourth place. Being better corporate citizens of the country and the world, and
to just plain being Disney again, said Disney.
The contents of the shareholder gift bag include a T-shirt, notebook, pen, bumper
sticker, button, and cloisonné pin. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
the question-and-answer session, while again refusing to name any of the short
list of five to 10 candidates who could be potential successors to Michael
Eisner, Stanley Gold stated that the characteristics that would be necessary for
success would be a person who understood, appreciated, and could interact with
creativity, and someone who had strategic vision.
crowd once again broke into great applause when Gold said that he and Disney believe
that the jobs of Chairman and CEO should be separated, and that neither should
be Michael Eisner.
The crowd once again broke into great
applause when Gold said that he and Disney believe that the jobs of Chairman and
CEO should be separated, and that neither should be Michael Eisner.
A full house in the ballroom greets Roy Disney with a standing ovation. Photo
by Mark Goldhaber.
The rally energized the crowd, which included both local
and out-of-town shareholders.
Disney, Gold, and McConnell answered questions
at the front of the ballroom at the conclusion of the rally while most of the
crowd filtered out.
The rally was followed by a reception, where Disney
and Gold met with supporters in a room decorated with drawings depicting Roy Disney
coming to the rescue of the Mouse House. Large displays of food and an open bar
fed the masses, while a piano player performed a medley of Disney tunes.
The post-rally reception room is decorated with pro-Roy Disney drawings. Photo
by Mark Goldhaber.
Meanwhile, during the reception, the Christian Action
Network was hosting a reception of their own, passing out kits including buttons
that said Oust Michael Eisner and I Support Roy Disney.
However, they also distributed Stop Disney Gay Days! buttons as well
as a CD with their video, Gay Day at Disney Gone Wildand while Disney
and Gold probably appreciate any increase in the withhold vote generated by this
tactic, it was uncertain whether they felt comfortable being associated with this
The entire event was well orchestrated, delivering a positive buzz
to the supporters, while managing not to really reveal any new information from
the Save Disney team.
Roy Disney works the crowd at the reception following the rally. Photo by Mark
And yet, while this is a story about restoring magic to a beloved
company, it is as muchif not moreinternational business news. At a
press conference yesterday morning covered by the global press, Disney and Gold
answered questions, not revealing much that was not already available on the SaveDisney.com
One new piece of information, quelling some
Internet rumors, came when Gold specifically stated that they had had no contact
with Comcast and had not discussed the bid with them.
new piece of information, quelling some Internet rumors, came when Gold specifically
stated that they had had no contact with Comcast and had not discussed the bid
with them. In fact, not discussing the Comcast situation seemed to be the
order of the day. Each question asked about Comcast was deflected by Gold, stating
that they did not wish to discuss any possible Comcast scenarios until their mission
to remove Michael Eisner was accomplished, or there was a new offer from Comcast.
discussing the shareholder vote at the annual meeting, Gold said, We think
that a 15 to 20 percent vote, a withhold votea vote of no confidenceis
very important. Anything over 20 percent would be very impressive.
Roy Disney and Stanley Gold answer questions at the morning press conference.
Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
When asked if they would propose an alternate slate
of directors next year if the withhold-vote level reaches 35 percent this year,
Gold said, I don't want to predict what we're going to do a year from today,
but let me be candid with you. We're not going away until Mr. Eisner is gone.
We'll be here next week, next month, next year, whatever it takes. We don't believe
that he's capable of running this company anymore.
We're not going away until Mr. Eisner is gone
We don't believe
that he's capable of running this company anymore.
Disney added, I think if Michael Eisner weren't with the company, we could
make a deal with Pixar in a matter of weeks.
Jim Hill is interviewed by Reuters. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
In what was
a refreshing change in the corporate world, questions from the nontraditional
(Internet) media were addressed on a par with those from the mainstream press,
as Jim Hill Media and MousePlanet questions were taken and deflected. Following
the meeting, representatives from Jim Hill Media, MousePlanet, and LaughingPlace
were interviewed by other media looking for more insights into the story.
is the all-important annual shareholders meeting. And Roy Disney will have 15
precious minutes to address the assembly there.
The mediaonline and
otherwisewill be watching.
questions, or comments? Contact Mark here.