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Walt Disney Company

Walt Disney Company

500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, California 91521
U.S.A.
(818) 560-1000
Fax: (818) 840-1930

Public Company
Incorporated: 1938 as Walt Disney Productions
Employees: 58,000
Sales: $6.18 billion
Stock Exchanges: New York Pacific Midwest Tokyo

A colossal force in the entertainment industry, The Walt Disney Company is best known for bringing decades of fantasy and fun to families through its amusement parks, television series, and many classic live-action and animated motion pictures. Since 1984, a pivotal time in the companys history, Disney has enjoyed an enormous creative and financial renaissance, due to the leadership of chief executive officer Michael Eisner: the success of such subsidiaries as Touchstone Films, Hollywood Pictures, The Disney Studios, Buena Vista Distribution, The Disney Channel, and Buena Vista Home Video; the sales of Disney consumer products through The Disney Stores and a multitude of licensing arrangements; and a recommitment to excellence in the making of original feature-length animated films. The grand opening of Euro Disney in 1992, despite unpromising initial revenues, is just one example of Disneys continually aggressive approach to corporate growth.

Walt Disney, the companys founder, was born in Chicago in 1901. His appeal to greater America is said to have had roots in his humble, middle-class upbringing. Disneys father, Elias, moved the family throughout the midwestern United States seeking employment. Young Disney grew up in a household where hard work was prized: feeding the familys five children left little pocket change for amusement. Walt Disney began working at the age of nine as a newspaper delivery boy. His father instructed him and his siblings in the teachings of the Congregational Church and socialism.

Drawing provided an escape for Disney, and at the age of 14 he took his work on the road and enrolled at the Kansas City Art Institute. His art was temporarily put on hold when he joined the Red Cross at age 16 to serve as an ambulance driver at the end of World War I. In 1919 he returned to the United States and found work as a commercial artist. Together with Ub Iwerks, another artist at the studio, Disney soon formed an animated cartoon company in Kansas City.

In 1923, following the bankruptcy of this company, Disney joined his brother Roy in Hollywood. By the time he arrived on the West Coast, word came from New York that a company wanted to purchase the rights to a series of Disneys live-action cartoon reelsthe one that would later be called Alice Comedies. A distributor named M. J. Winkler offered $1,500 per reel, and Disney joined her as a production partner.

A series of animated films followed on Alice s heels. In 1927 Disney started a series called Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, which met with public acclaim. The distributor, however, had the character copyrighted in its own name, so Disney earned only a few hundred dollars. It was while pondering the unfairness of this situation on a California-bound train that Disney first thought of creating a mouse character named Mortimer. He changed the name to Mickey Mouse, drew up some simple sketches, and went on to make several Mickey Mouse films with his brother Roy, using their own money.

On the third Mickey Mouse film, Disney decided to take a bold step and add sound to Steamboat Willie. The cartoon was synchronized with a simple musical background. The process provided some of the first technical steps in film continuity: music was played at two beats a second and the film was marked every 12 frames as a guide to the animator, and later an orchestra.

Film distributors laughed at Disneys idea. Finally one, Pat Powers, released Steamboat Willie in theaters. Audiences loved what they saw and heard, and suddenly Disney was a hit in the animation business. In 1935 the New York Times called Mickey Mouse the best-known and most popular international figure of his day. Meanwhile, Disney suffered criticism from observers who judged him to be a cartoonist of only mediocre ability. (Iwerks was responsible for the actual design of Mickey Mouse and the other characters.) Disney was, however, given credit for his ability to conceptualize characters and stories.

The Mickey Mouse projects brought in enough cash to allow Walt Disney to develop other projects, including several full-length motion pictures and advances in Technicolor film. Disneys first full-length film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, opened in 1937 to impressive crowds and led to a string of Disney hits, including Pinocchio and Fantasia in 1940, Dumbo in 1941, Bambi in 1942, and Saludos Amigos in 1943.

Around 1940 Disney decided to tackle live-action films, first with The Reluctant Dragon and to a greater extent with 1946s Song of the South. Meanwhile, during World War II, Disney lent his characters to the war effort, making shorts, including one in which Minnie Mouse showed American homemakers the importance of saving fats. After the war, Walt Disney Productions was back in business with live-action features including 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The Living Desert was released in the early 1950s by Disneys new distribution company, Buena Vista, to tremendous box office success.

During the 1950s, as Americans began to spend more time at home watching television for entertainment, Disneys studio took full advantage of the small screen revolution. In 1954, the Disneyland television series premiered. The show included an introduction by Walt Disney and incorporated film clips from Disney productions with live action and coverage of Disneyland. Some four million people tuned in each week. Disney also made a national folk hero out of Davy Crockett when he devoted a three-part program to coverage of his life. Within a matter of weeks, American boys could not live without coonskin caps and other Crockett merchandise, all of which earned Disney a fortune. Crocketts popularity led to the era of the Disney live-action adventures that included the 1950s hits The Great Locomotive Chase, Westward Ho, Old Yeller, and The Light in the Forest.

In October 1955 The Mickey Mouse Club debuted on the ABC television network. The hour-long show aired at 5 p.m. weekdays and made television history. Six years later, his groundbreaking Sunday night color TV show Walt Disneys Wonderful World of Color (later changed to The Wonderful World of Disney ), began its 20-year run on NBC. At the same time, Disney was making stars out of Fred MacMurray, Hayley Mills, and Dean Jones in movies like The Shaggy Dog, The Absent-Minded Professor, Pollyanna, and The Parent Trap. In 1964 Disneys Mary Poppins became one of the top-grossing films of all time.

Disney required professionalism of his staff and demanded the highest-quality Technicolor available, and as a result his live-action films topped competitors in both creativity and technical standards. He also had his hand in several other projects, including Audio-Animatronics (automatically controlled robots) and a Florida amusement complex that eventually became Walt Disney World, complementing Californias vacation hot spot, Disneyland.

On December 15, 1966, Walt Disney died of lung cancer. Shortly after Disneys death, his brother Roy issued an optimistic statement pledging that Walt Disneys philosophy and genius would be carried on by his employees.

But no one could match Walt Disneys keen story sense or enthusiasm, and the studio foundered through most of the 1970s despite several strong chief executive officers, including E. Cardón Card Walker, who had joined the company as a traffic boy in 1938. The studio did manage a few successes during this period, including Blackbeards Ghost, with Dean Jones and Suzanne Pleshette, and the 1969 release The Love Bug, which became the years biggest box office hit and the second-highest grossing film in Disney history after Mary Poppins. Other popular releases of the late 1960s and early 1970s included The Jungle Book, The Aristocats, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and several live-action features.

But a run of box office disappointments followed in the mid-1970s before The Rescuers proved successful. Petes Dragon, an experimental film combining human and animated characters, followed. Progress was slow but steady for the Disney studio in the late 1970s and early 1980s as well. The studio released three new live-action movies: The Worlds Greatest Athlete, Gus, and The Shaggy D.A. Return from Witch Mountain, a sequel to the popular mystery-fantasy Escape to Witch Mountain, premiered in 1978. And a risky science-fiction venture titled The Black Hole cost $20 million to produce but was lost in the amazing success of Star Wars, an all-time science-fiction box office record-breaker that became one of the most popular films ever released in the United States. Chief executive officer Ron Miller brought in new directors and younger writers who produced such films as Watcher in the Woods and the computer-generated Tron, but achieved only mild success in the face of competition from other movie studios.

In 1983, beginning with the release of Mickeys Christmas Carol, Disneys fortunes finally began to look up. A string of successful movies followed, including the Arctic adventure Never Cry Wolf and a production of Ray Bradburys Something Wicked This Way Comes. That same year the company also began marketing a family-oriented pay-TV channel called the Disney Channel, which quickly became the fastest-growing channel on cable television.

Corporate raider Saul Steinberg attempted a hostile takeover of the company in 1984. Disney ultimately bought Steinbergs 11.1 percent holding in the company for $325.4 million. A number of lawsuits were filed by shareholders against both Disney and Steinbergs Reliance Group Holdings, charging that Disneys managers had attempted to secure their positions and had lowered the value of the stock. The suits were settled in 1989 when the two companies jointly agreed to pay shareholders $45 million.

Shortly after their purchase of 18.7 percent of Disneys stock, the Bass family of Texas supported the Disney Boards hiring of Michael Eisner from Paramount Pictures to be Disneys new chief executive officer and Frank Wells to be president.

Eisner, responsible for such Paramount blockbusters as Raiders of the Lost Ark and Beverly Hills Cop, immediately began to emphasize Touchstone Films, a subsidiary devoted to attracting adult movie audiences. Commentators note that Eisner, like Walt Disney, has had the ability to predict and deliver movies people want to see. The 1985 release of Down and Out in Beverly Hills helped Touchstone build momentum, which it increased with Outrageous Fortune, Tin Men, Ruthless People, and other hits. In Eisners first four years as chief executive officer, Disney surged from last place to first in box office receipts among the eight major studios.

Eisner also set out to take full advantage of expanding markets such as cable television and home video. Disney signed a long-term deal with Showtime Networks, Inc., giving the cable service exclusive rights to Touchstone and other Disney releases through 1996. In addition, Eisner bought KHJ, an independent Los Angeles TV station; sought new markets for old Disney productions through television syndication; and began to distribute TV shows like The Golden Girls.

Certain Disney classics, including Lady and the Tramp and Cinderella, were released on video cassette during the late 1980s. Eisner protected the value of the films by limiting the availability of the tapes. He also scheduled the re-release of many other films for the late 1980s and early 1990s, by which time a new generation of children would be ready to see the films in the theater once again. Disneys revenues soon began to increase, averaging an improvement of approximately 20 percent annually during the second half of the 1980s.

Disney also airs a two-hour show each Saturday on French television. Marketing and promotion of Disney videos and tie-in merchandise in other parts of western Europe are increasing. The theme parks continue to flourish. In 1989 Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park opened near Orlando, Florida, on the grounds of Walt Disney World. Despite its name, the park is not a collaboration between the two studios; Disney purchased the rights to include attractions based on MGM films. Euro Disney, of which Disney owns 49 percent, opened outside of Paris, in Marne-la-Vallee, on April 12, 1992; and Tokyo Disneyland, licensed though not owned by Disney, regularly draws phenomenal crowds in a powerful consumer market. Plans have been made to open a second Disney-MGM Studios park, on a site adjacent to Euro Disney, in the mid-1990s. In the United States, visitors to each of the original theme parks exceed ten million a year and are expected to continue to increase. Both technical and resort-related developments at the parks remain major concerns for the company. In 1991 alone, Disney spent more than $924 million refurbishing existing properties and constructing new park attractions and theme-oriented hotels.

In the early 1980s the parks were responsible for about 70 percent of the companys revenue. Although they continue to be a crucial part of the company, the theme parks have found competition with Disneys newer projects, including hotel expansions, home video distribution, and Disney merchandising, which together in 1991 garnered an impressive 28 percent of fiscal revenues. Virtually as important, perhaps more so given their unrealized potential, are Disneys international operationsevident not only in Japan and France, but throughout much of Europe, the former Soviet Union, South America, and Chinawhich contributed 22 percent of total revenues in 1991. Future global-oriented plans involve introducing more Disney books, videos, and related merchandise to increase sales in both domestic and foreign markets. In addition, Disney plans to terminate a film distribution relationship with Warner Brothers International in 1993 and begin marketing Disney and non-Disney pictures through its own international division.

Meanwhile, Touchstone remains healthy. Hollywood Pictures, Disneys newest film-producing arm, began making more films in the late 1980s. Disney continued to score hits with Three Men and a Baby, Good Morning Vietnam, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and others. Most importantly, production costs, though constantly rising, were held by Disney in 1989 to an average of $15 million per movie, compared to an industry average of more than $23 million.

The 1990s, termed the Disney Decade by the company, should be witness to perhaps the most dramatic changes and accomplishments of Disneys more than half-century history. If 1990 and 1991 are any indication, the remainder of the decade will be highlighted by continued tough Hollywood negotiations, box office wars, large overseas financing and expansion, omnipresent marketing campaigns, unique entertainment ventures, media event films, and the special imprint of not only Eisner but president Frank Wells and studio chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg.

By the second quarter of 1991, the studio, under Katzenbergs strong leadership, had surpassed the theme parks in profitability, leading the company to commit to a record-high 25 new films in 1992. By far the greatest highlight of 1991 was Disneys 30th feature-length animated film, Beauty and the Beast. Amid a troubled year and a depressed economy, during which corporate net income plummeted by 23 percent and Disney, despite the success of its studio, experienced its first year with no growth since 1984, this film nominated for best picture and winner of Academy Awards for best original score and best original songprovided much-welcomed relief. Beauty, like its 1989 Oscar-winning predecessor The Little Mermaid, shattered previous records for the most successful opening of an animated film. It quickly became the highest-grossing picture of its genre. Such a warm public reception and the accompanying accolades of critics virtually insure that the fall 1992 video release of the movie will be an enormous financial coup. Not surprisingly, animation will continue to play a major role in Disney Studio operations; Aladdin, with Robin Williams as the genies voice, is scheduled for an opening in late 1992.

Although Disney is notorious for undercutting its Hollywood competitors, it, too, has been forced to pay exorbitant amounts for top creative talent. Both Bernard Weinraub, in a New York Times article, and Eisner, in the companys 1991 annual report, reported that Disney will attempt to stem the flow of high production costs for big-budget films and instead offer films with appealing storylines and engaging characters. According to Ron Grover, Katzenberg himself began pushing for such a redirection in early 1991. Presumably, films like the modestly budgeted 1990 sleeper Pretty Woman may be expected in the future.

Disneys newest foraysits creation, for example, of Hyperion Press and Hollywood Records for stakes in the publishing and adult music industriesare expected to further strengthen its reputation as an entertainment giant. Yet, here too, it has become increasingly cautious. In August it revealed that its Imagineering division, responsible for theme park design, was laying off up to 400 of its employees. Further news that Euro Disneys profitability for its first year was in serious doubt indicated to some that Disney might be struggling. However, Disneys overseas investment is less than $200 million, a fraction of the total, according to Stewart Toy. And whether or not theres a profit, Walt Disney gets 10 percent of ticket sales and 5 percent of merchandise sales.

As the Disney Decade continues to unfold, and speculations of mergers and other high-level behind-the-scenes negotiations repeatedly surface, one fact remains clear. According to Joe Flower, author of Prince of the Magic Kingdom: Michael Eisner and the Re-Making of Disney, the Disney name remains the companys largest resource, an asset that would be difficult if not impossible for any other company to build or buy. While Disney may suffer setbacks in particular areas, and may even abandon some businesses, it is likely that, all things considered, the company will continue to grow faster and more safely through the next decade than the average American company.

Principal Subsidiaries

Buena Vista Home Video; Buena Vista International; Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc.; Buena Vista Television; Childcraft Educational Corp.; The Disney Channel; Disney Consumer Products International, Inc.; Disney Development Co.; The Disney Store, Inc.; EDL Holding Co.; Euro Disney S.C.A. (49%); KHJ-TV, Inc.; Lake Buena Vista Communities; Reedy Creek Energy Services, Inc.; Walt Disney Imagineering; Walt Disney Pictures and Television; WCO Parent Corp.; WED Transportation Systems, Inc.

Further Reading

Thomas, Bob, Walt Disney, an American Original, New York, Simon & Schuster, 1976; Leebron, Elizabeth, Walt Disney: A Guide to References and Resources, Boston, G. K. Hall, 1979; Beard, Richard R., Walt Disneys Epcot, New York, Abrams, 1982; Maltin, Leonard, The Disney Films, New York, Crown, 1984; Birnbaum, Steve, The Best of Disneyland, Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1987; Taylor, John, Storming the Magic Kingdom: Wall Street, the Raiders, and the Battle for Disney, New York, Knopf, 1987; Holliss, Richard, The Disney Studio Story, New York, Crown, 1988; Flower, Joe, Prince of the Magic Kingdom: Michael Eisner and the Re-Making of Disney, New York, John Wiley & Sons, 1991; Grover, Ron, The Disney Touch: How a Daring Management Team Revived an Entertainment Empire, Homewood, 111., Business One Irwin, 1991; Weinraub, Bernard, 2 Titans Clash and All of Filmdom Feels Shock Waves, New York Times, April 13, 1992; Disney Profit Jumps 30%, New York Times, April 28, 1992; Disney Trimming Theme Park Staff as Par Gears Up, Variety, August 3, 1992; Toy, Stewart, Patrick Oster, and Ronald Grover, The Mouse Isnt Roaring, Business Week, August 24, 1992.

Cindy Pearlman

updated by Jay Pederson

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"Walt Disney Company." International Directory of Company Histories. 1992. Encyclopedia.com. 25 Jun. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Walt Disney Company." International Directory of Company Histories. 1992. Encyclopedia.com. (June 25, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2841000069.html

"Walt Disney Company." International Directory of Company Histories. 1992. Retrieved June 25, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2841000069.html

Walt Disney Company

Walt Disney Company

500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, California 91521
U.S.A.
(818) 560-1000

Public Company
Incorporated: 1938 as Walt Disney Productions
Employees: 39,000
Sales: $3.44 billion
Stock Index: New York Pacific Midwest Tokyo

The Walt Disney Company is one of the most creative and successful forces in the entertainment industry. The company is best known for bringing decades of fantasy to families through its motion pictures, television series, and amusement parks. In the early 1980s Disney expanded beyond the family-film market with the creation of Touchstone Films, which was responsible for the release of some of the most popular motion pictures of the 1980s.

The companys founder, of course, was Walt Disney. Born in Chicago in 1901, Disneys father, Elias Disney, moved his family throughout the Midwest seeking employment. Disney grew up in a household where hard work was prized; feeding the five Disney children left little pocket change for amusement. Walt Disney began working at age nine as a newspaper delivery boy. Elias Disney instructed his children in the teachings of the Congregational Church and socialism. Later, Walt Disneys appeal to greater America was said to have roots in his middle-class, Midwestern upbringing.

Drawing provided an escape for Disney, and at age 14 he took his work on the road and enrolled at the Kansas City Art Institute. Disneys art was temporarily put on hold when he joined the Red Cross at age 16 to serve as an ambulance driver at the end of World War I. In 1919 Disney returned to the United States and found work as a commercial artist. Together with Ub Iwerks, another artist at the studio, Disney soon formed an animated cartoon company.

In 1923, following the bankruptcy of this Kansas City company, Disney joined his brother Roy in Hollywood. By the time he arrived on the West Coast, word came from New York that a company wanted to purchase the rights to a series of Disneys live-action cartoon reelsthe one which would later be called Alice Comedies. A distributor named M. J. Winkler offered $1,500 per reel and Disney joined her as a production partner.

A series of animated films followed on Alices heels. In 1927 Disney started a series called Oswald the Lucky Rabbit which met public acclaim. Winkler, however, had the character copyrighted in her own name, so Disney earned only a few hundred dollars. It was while pondering the unfairness of this situation on a California-bound train that Disney first thought of creating a mouse character named Mortimer. He shortened the name to Mickey, drew up some simple sketches, and went on to make several Mickey Mouse films with his brother Roy, using their own money.

On the third Mickey Mouse film, Disney decided to take a bold step and add sound to what later became Steamboat Willie. The cartoon was synchronized with a simple musical background. The process provided some of the first technical steps in film continuity: music was played at two beats a second and the film was marked every 12 frames as a guide to the animator, and later an orchestra.

Film distributors laughed at Disneys ideas. Finally one, Pat Powers, released Steamboat Willie, which was met by highly favorable reviews. Audiences loved what they saw and heard, and suddenly he was a hit in the animation business. In 1935, The New York Times called Mickey Mouse the best known and most popular international figure of his day. Meanwhile Disney personally suffered from largely unfair press treatment pointing out that he was not a great cartoonist and that Ub Iwerks was responsible for the design of Mickey Mouse and the other characters. He was, however, given credit for his ability to conceptualize characters and stories.

The Mickey Mouse projects brought in enough cash to allow Walt Disney to develop other projects, including several full-length motion pictures and advances in Technicolor film. Disneys first full-length motion picture was called Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The movie opened in 1937 to impressive crowds and led to a string of Disney hits, including Pinocchio and Fantasia in 1940, Dumbo in 1941, Bambi in 1942, and Saludos Amigos in 1943.

In mid-1940 Disney decided to tackle live-action films, first in The Reluctant Dragon and to a greater extent in 1946s Song of the South. Meanwhile, during World War II, Disney lent his characters to the war effort, making shorts, including one in which Minnie Mouse showed American housewives the importance of saving fats. After the war, Walt Disney Productions was back in business with live-action features including 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The Living Desert was released in the early 1950s by Disneys new distribution company, Buena Vista, to tremendous box office success.

During the 1950s, as America became content to stay home and be entertained in front of the TV, Disneys studio took full advantage of the television revolution. In 1954, the Disneyland television series premiered. The show included an introduction by Walt Disney, and incorporated film clips from Disney productions, live action, and coverage of Disneyland. Some four million people tuned in each week. Disney also made a national hero out of Davy Crockett when he made the folk hero the subject of a three-part program. Within a matter of weeks, American boys could not live without coonskin caps and other Crockett merchandise, all of which earned Disney a fortune. Crocketts popularity led to the era of the Disney live-action adventures that included the late 1950s hits The Great Locomotive Chase, Westward Ho, Old Yeller, and The Light in the Forest.

In October, 1955 The Mickey Mouse Club debuted on the ABC television network. The daily hour-long show aired at 5 p.m. and made television history. In 1961 Walt Disney switched from ABC to NBC, where his hour-long show, as one of the first color shows, was renamed Walt Disneys Wonderful World of Color (later changed to The Wonderful World of Disney). Aired at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday nights, the show ran for 20 years. At the same time, Disney was making movie stars out of Fred MacMurray, Hayley Mills, and Dean Jones in movies like The Shaggy Dog, The Absent-Minded Professor, Polly-anna, and The Parent Trap. In 1964, Disneys Mary Poppins was one of the top-grossing films of the year.

At the same time, Disney had his hand in diverse projects, including Audio-Animatronics (automatically controlled robots) and a Florida amusement complex which eventually became Walt Disney World, to complement Californias Disneyland, which had become a vacation hot spot.

Disney required professionalism of his staff and demanded the highest-quality Technicolor available. His return was live-action films that topped competitors in both creativity and technical standards.

On December 15, 1966 Walt Disney died of lung cancer. Shortly after Disneys death, his brother Roy issued an optimistic statement to the effect that Walt Disneys philosophy and genius would be carried on by his employees.

But no one could match Walt Disneys keen story sense or enthusiasm, and the studio floundered through most of the 1970s despite several strong CEOs, including E. Cardon Card Walker, who had joined the company as a traffic boy in 1938. Not that there werent any successes. Blackbeards Ghost, with Dean Jones and Suzanne Pleshette, was released in 1968. In 1969 Disney released The Love Bug, which became the years biggest box office hit and the second-highest grossing film in Disney history, after Mary Poppins. Three sequels and a short-run television series followed. Other popular releases of the late 1960s and the 1970s included The Jungle Book, The Aristocats, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and several live-action features.

But a run of box office disappointments followed, including mid-1970s James Garner releases like One Little Indian and Castaway Cowboy. Robin Hood, distributed at the end of 1973, was a minor flop; The Small One was released around Christmas, 1976 and was labeled too saccharine. Finally, The Rescuers proved successful. A mildly-successful effort called Petes Dragon followed, combining human and animated characters.

Progress was slow for the Disney studio in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The studio released three new live-action movies: The Worlds Greatest Athlete, Gus, and The Shaggy D.A. Mediocre films like Return from Witch Mountain and The Black Hole, a $20 million film that was lost in the amazing success of Star Wars, followed.

New CEO Ron Miller brought in new directors and younger writers who produced unremarkable films including Watcher in the Woods, Fox and the Hound, and even Tron, a computer-generated film that was one of Disneys most daring efforts in years.

In 1983, beginning with the release of Mickeys Christmas Carol, Disneys fortunes finally began to look up. A string of successful movies followed, including Never Cry Wolf and the semi-successful horror movie Something Wicked This Way Comes, a Ray Bradbury tale. In 1983 the company also began marketing a pay-TV channel, the Disney Channel, which offers family-oriented programming and quickly became the fastest-growing pay-TV channel.

In 1984 corporate raider Saul Steinberg attempted a hostile takeover of the company. Disney ultimately bought Steinbergs 11.1% holding in the company for $325.4 million. A number of greenmail suits were filed by shareholders against both Disney and Steinbergs Reliance Group Holdings, charging that Disneys managers had attempted to secure their positions and had lowered the value of the stock. The suits were settled in 1989 when the two companies jointly agreed to pay shareholders $45 million.

Shortly after their purchase of 18.7% of Disneys stock, the Bass family of Texas hired Michael Eisner from Paramount Pictures to be Disneys new CEO and Frank Wells to be president. And in 1985 Disney lured Gary Wilson from the Marriott Corporation and made him chief financial officer. Eisners creative instinct and Wilsons negotiating savvy were crucial to making Disney the success it is today.

Eisner immediately began to emphasize Touchstone Films, a subsidiary whose purpose is to attract adult movie audiences. Splash, starring Daryl Hannah, Tom Hanks, and John Candy and directed by Ron Howard had had the biggest opening weekend business in the companys history just six months before Eisner took over.

Eisner, like Walt Disney, has had the ability to predict and deliver the movies people want to see. Films like the 1985 release Down and Out in Beverly Hills helped Touchstone build momentum. Touchstone followed up with Outrageous Fortune, Tin Men, Ruthless People, and many other hits. In Eisners first four years as CEO, Disney surged from last place to first among the eight major studios.

Eisner also set out to take fuller advantage of expanding markets such as cable television and home video. Disney signed a long-term deal with Showtime Networks, Inc., giving the cable service exclusive rights to Touchstone and other Disney releases through 1996. In addition, Eisner bought KHJ, an independent Los Angeles TV station; sought new markets for old Disney productions through television syndication; and began to distribute TV shows like Golden Girls and Win, Lose or Draw.

Certain Disney classics, like Lady and the Tramp and Cinderella, were released on video cassette during the late 1980s. Eisner protected the value of the films by limiting the availability of the tapes. He also scheduled the re-release of many other films for the late 1980s and early 1990s, by which time a new generation of children would be ready to see the films in the theater once again. Disneys revenues soon began to increase, averaging around a 20% annual improvement during the second half of the 1980s.

Disney also airs a two-hour show each Saturday on French television. Marketing and promotion of Disney videos and tie-in merchandise in other parts of western Europe are increasing. The theme parks continue to flourish. In 1989 Disney/MGM Studios theme park opened near Orlando, Florida, on the grounds of Walt Disney World. Despite its name, the park is not a collaboration between the two studios; Disney purchased the rights to include attractions based on MGM films. Euro-Disneyland, of which Disney owns 49%, will open outside of Paris in 1992; and Tokyo Disneyland, although it is not owned by the Walt Disney Company and profits the company very little, draws phenomenal crowds. In the United States, visitors to each of the original theme parks exceed ten million a year and are expected to continue to increase. Technical developments at the parks remain a major concern to the company. Between 1987 and the summer of 1989 Disney spent more than $1 billion constructing new park attractions.

In the early 1980s the parks were responsible for about 70% of the companys revenue. Carrying a very low debt, and with $315 million in ready cash, Disney hopes to be equally fruitful abroad. Future plans include introducing more Disney books, videos, and tie-in merchandise to the Japanese market. In China, a half-hour Mickey and Donald show is a smash success, with 40 million viewers. Eisner is also exploring the possibility of Disney projects in Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and South America.

Meanwhile, Touchstone remains healthy. Hollywood Pictures, Disneys newest film-producing arm, began making more films in the late 1980s. Disneys Silver Screen Partners, which arranges financing for films through limited partnerships, seems to have the golden touch. The studio continued to score hits with Three Men and a Baby, Good Morning Vietnam, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and others. In addition, production costs run around $12 million per movie while the industry average is $16.5 million.

The ability of a motion picture studio to churn out hits consistently is rare. Disneys film subsidiaries did exceptionally well in the 1980s; whether they can continue their success remains to be seen. The theme parks, however, are a very stable high-margin business, and growth for all of Disneys businesses overseas looks quite promising as well. At home, the 200 companies licenced to make Disney products generated $1 billion in 1988. Michael Eisner seems to have found the formula for success in the entertainment business, nearly tripling turnover in his first four years, and Disney is reaping the rewards.

Principal Subsidiaries

Buena Vista Pictures Distribution Inc.; Buena Vista International, Inc.; Disneyland International; Lake Buena Vista Communities, Inc.; Reedy Creek Services Inc.; Walt Disney Travel Co., Inc.; Walt Disney World Co.; The Disney Channel; Disney Development Co.; Buena Vista Home Video; Buena Vista Television; Childcraft Education Corp.; Childcraft Inc.; Disney Educational Productions; The Disney Store, Inc.; Euro Disneyland Corporation; KHJ-TV, Inc.; The Walt Disney Catalog, Inc.; Walt Disney Imagineering; Walt Disney Pictures and Television; WCO Hotels, Inc.; WCO Port Properties, Ltd.

Further Reading

Thomas, Bob. Walt Disney, an American Original, New York, Simon & Schuster, 1976; Leebron, Elizabeth. Walt Disney: A Guide to References and Resources, Boston, G.K. Hall, 1979; Abrams, Harry. Walt Disneys Epcot, New York, Abrams, 1982; Maltin, Leonard. The Disney Films New York, Crown, 1984; Birnbaum, Steve. The Best of Disneyland, Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1987; Taylor, John. Storming the Magic Kingdom: Wall Street, the Raiders, and the Battle for Disney, New York, Knopf, 1987; Holliss, Richard. The Disney Studio Story, New York, Crown, 1988.

Cite this article
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"Walt Disney Company." International Directory of Company Histories. 1990. Encyclopedia.com. 25 Jun. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Walt Disney Company." International Directory of Company Histories. 1990. Encyclopedia.com. (June 25, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2840600070.html

"Walt Disney Company." International Directory of Company Histories. 1990. Retrieved June 25, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2840600070.html

Walt Disney Company

Walt Disney Company

500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521
(818) 560-1000
www.disney.go.com

Starting with animated films featuring animals, including a particularly famous white-gloved mouse, the Walt Disney Company grew to become a leading provider of all forms of family entertainment. It also established one of the world's best-known and respected brand names. People from around the globe flock to Disney theme parks and Disney movies, and in most countries at any given time, someone is bound to be sporting a T-shirt or watch featuring Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Pluto, or any one of the dozens of well-known Disney characters. The man behind the vision was animator Walt Disney, who turned a small company into a part of American popular culture.

A Mouse Leads the Way

Walt Disney had already failed running one animation company when he reached Hollywood, California, in 1923. His brother Roy (1893-1971) was already living there, and together they formed the Disney Brothers Studio. Walt was the artist, creating characters and developing stories, while Roy handled the business affairs, especially raising money. The brothers signed a deal to make cartoons, receiving $1,500 per reel of film.

In 1926, Disney Brothers Studio became Walt Disney Studios (and later Walt Disney Productions), reflecting Walt's role as the creative force. In 1927, he created a cartoon character called Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, who starred in more than two dozen cartoons. The company's big break, however, came in 1928, with the first appearance of Mickey Mouse. Mickey appeared in two silent cartoons before starring in Steamboat Willie, the first cartoon with sound. (The first film with sound, The Jazz Singer, had been released the year before.) By this time, Disney was no longer drawing cartoons himself. He relied on other artists, particularly longtime friend Ub Iwerks (1901-1971). But Disney remained directly involved in creating the stories for his cartoons, and insisted on the highest quality possible.

Steamboat Willie was a sensation, and quickly led to more Mickey Mouse cartoons and other talking animal characters. In 1929, a stationery company saw the value of putting Mickey's face on pads of paper. Disney sold the company the right to use the mouse's image for $300. Within a few years, Disney hired an advertising company to put Disney characters on other products, and soon Disney Productions earned about 10 percent of its income from these licensing deals.

Walt Disney at a Glance

  • Employees: 114,000
  • CEO: Michael Eisner
  • Subsidiaries: ABC Holding Company, Inc.; ABC, Inc.; American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.; Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc.; Disney Enterprises, Inc.; ESPN, Inc.; Walt Disney World Company
  • Major Competitors: DreamWorks SKG; Vivendi Universal; Viacom; AOL Time Warner; Comcast; News Corporation; Bertelsmann AC
  • Notable Products and Companies: Theme parks: Disneyland, Disney's California Adventure, Disney World, Disneyland Resort Paris, Tokyo DisneySea, EPCOT; TV networks: ABC, ABC Family Channel, ESPN, The Disney Net work; Film production companies: Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Miramax; Record companies: Hollywood Records, Buena Vista Records; Hyperion publishing; Disney Online; Disney Cruise Line

While expanding into other businesses, Disney did not ignore its primary purpose: to make movies. By 1931, the studio staff totaled seventy-five employees. The next year, the company released the first full-color cartoon, Flowers and Trees. The cartoon won an Academy Award, filmmaking's highest honor. In 1937, Disney made the world's first full-length animated film, Snow White. Other filmmakers thought Disney could not come up with a good enough story to entertain people with a long cartoon, and they nicknamed the film "Disney's Folly." Snow White, however, was a huge hit, and was followed by Pinocchio and Fantasia, both released in 1940.

Timeline

1923:
With his brother Roy, Walt Disney forms Disney Brothers Studio, which later becomes the Walt Disney Company.
1928:
Steamboat Willie, featuring Mickey Mouse, is the world's first cartoon with sound.
1937:
Disney releases Snow White, the first full-length animated movie.
1955:
Disneyland opens in Anaheim, California.
1966:
Walt Disney dies.
1971:
Disney World opens in Orlando, Florida.
1984:
Michael Eisner becomes CEO of Disney.
1994:
Beauty and the Beast is Disney's first Broadway musical.
1995:
Disney buys the ABC television network, which also gives it control of ESPN and other cable networks.
1998:
Disney launches its own cruise line.

Wartime Efforts

The success of Snow White allowed Disney to build a new $3 million studio in Burbank, California. The studio featured plush working conditions for the time, including air conditioning and a cafeteria that delivered to workers' desks. But by 1941, workers were demanding better pay as well. A strike at the studio upset Disney for several reasons: the company was already in debt, plus Disney felt that he had always tried to treat his workers well.

The strike ended just before the United States entered World War II (1939-45). During the war, the Disney company produced animated training films for the government, as well as entertainment. Some of the Disney cartoons served as propaganda, reminding Americans how to contribute to the war effort and making fun of the country's enemies. Disney's major theatrical release during the war was Bambi, which featured some of the studio's most realistic drawings of animals.

After the war, with Disney Productions still in debt, the company began to make its first live-action films. Some were "true life" stories, featuring animals or people in exotic locations. The first of these, Seal Island, was released in 1948. Two years later, Disney produced its first live-action story, Treasure Island, based on the classic book by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894). Even as the company moved beyond cartoons, it stayed true to its roots of offering well-made family entertainment.

Disneyland, Television, and the Future

By the early 1950s, Walt Disney had a creative vision. He wanted to build an amusement park tied to different Disney products that recreated the look and feel of a small American town. The final product was Disneyland, built for $17 million dollars in Anaheim, California. The park opened in 1955, and within a year it earned $10 millionone third of Disney's total revenue.

The money needed to build Disneyland forced Disney Productions to take on a partner. ABC, a television network, invested in the park and loaned Disney money in return for one-third ownership (the company later sold its share back to Disney). The deal also led to a weekly Disney television program on ABC, called Disneyland. The show featured clips from Disney movies and new programs filmed for television. Walt Disney introduced each show, which made him an instant celebrity. For three years, the program was ABC's most popular program; it ran under different names until 1981. A new version appeared in the 1990s.

Soon Disney began producing other TV shows, such as Zorro and The Mickey Mouse Club, featuring the "Mouseketeers." These young actors sang, joked, and performed in sketches. They were known by the hats they wore, which looked like Mickey Mouse's ears. Disney Studios also made new films, including the musical comedy Mary Poppins (1964), which was nominated for thirteen Academy Awards. The success of such films helped Disney get out of debt in the early 1960s.

By this time, Walt Disney was moving out of film production to concentrate on building his own community. He called the town the Environmental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT). Disney was actively involved in designing Epcot when he died in 1966.

Disney after the Disneys

The death of Walt Disney left Roy 0. Disney in charge. He died in 1971, just after the opening of Disney's second theme park, Disney World, in Orlando, Florida. E. Cardon Walker, a longtime employee, then took over as president of the company. Roy E. Disney (1930-), the son of Walt's brother, also had a key role as vice president of animation. Walker tried to run the company as he thought Walt would have, although he lacked Disney's creative genius. For several years, the films Walker chose to make did well, but after 1974, his family-oriented fantasies and comedies were flops, considered old-fashioned by many kids and teens.

By 1979, the company had the worst sales of all the major film producers. Disney was also struggling to build EPCOT and eventually spent more than $1 billion to complete it. As business suffered, the company spent less money maintaining its two theme parks, and revenues there also fell.

One of the first Disneyland television shows was about the historic frontiersman Davy Crockett. It soon became a huge hit and sparked a national fad as boys and girls clamored for coonskin caps similar to the one Crockett wore on the show. Disney was only too happy to oblige.

In 1983, Walt Disney's son-in-law, Ron Miller, was elected the new chief executive officer (CEO). Miller had already begun to modernize Disney by forming a new studio, Touchstone Pictures, to make films that were not necessarily geared toward families. As CEO, Miller also launched Disney's own cable station, the Disney Channel. Investors, however, believed Walt Disney Productions was not as profitable as it should be. One of these people was Roy E. Disney, who had left the company in 1977. Along with his business partner Stanley Gold, Disney attempted to take over the company.

Disney and Gold were not alone. Other prominent investors, including Saul Steinberg, Irwin Jacobs, and the Bass family of Texas, bought shares in the company, hoping to make a profit. When the dust settled, Disney united with Bass to win control of the company in 1984. One of their first moves was replacing Ron Miller with Michael Eisner, a former executive at Paramount Pictures. Assisting him was Frank

Wells, who had played a part in organizing Roy Disney's takeover bid.

Rebirth of a Company

Eisner, like Walt Disney, had a strong creative streak, although he also had Roy 0. Disney's business sense. Eisner carried out Miller's plan of re-releasing old Disney films on videotape, then strengthened the animation division. He put Jeffrey Katzenberg (see DreamWorks SKG entry), another former Paramount executive, in charge of film production. Katzenberg was able to make money by spending much less than other studios on salaries and production. Eisner's other moves included boosting advertising for Disney's theme parks and producing the hit TV show, The Golden Girls. By the end of 1986, company revenues reached $2.4 billion.

Eisner, however, was just starting his ambitious program to expand the Disney company. That year, Disney changed its name to the Walt Disney Company. By 1989, the company had bought its own TV station, opened its own stores to sell Disney-related items, and spent more than $1 billion to modernize Disney World. Disney also started a third film company, Hollywood Pictures, which also had its own record label. The next year, Disney opened a new studio, built with MGM, near Disney World. Other projects there included a water park and new resort complexes.

The new projects continued during the 1990s. The company bought a hockey franchise and named it after a team featured in one its movies, the Mighty Ducks. Later, Disney bought a baseball team, the California Angels. In film production, a new wave of quality animated films led to strong boxoffice revenues and new licensing fees. The company also took control of Miramax, a film company known for its intelligent, smaller-budget films. Disney had a new hit TV show with Home Improvement, and it launched its own publishing company, Hyperion. By 1993, revenues reached $8.5 billion, with a larger percentage coming from international operations than in the past.

The next year, Disney released The Lion King, the top movie of the year. The soundtrack recording of The Lion King reached number one, and a Broadway play based on the movie was also a hit. Disney first came to Broadway in 1994, producing a musical based on its film version of Beauty and the Beast. The same year, the company bought a Broadway theater, helping to revitalize New York's Time Square area.

With its growth and power, Disney under Eisner developed a reputation for being tough. The company's movies continued to cost less to make than other film studios, and it drove hard bargains with partners and distributors. In 1995, Eisner told Fortune, "If you're soft and fuzzy, like our characters, you become the skinny kid on the beach, and people in this business don't mind kicking sand in your face." At the same time, however, Eisner was earning huge salaries, most of it tied to Disney stock. To some people, he became a symbol of the growing gap in pay between America's chief executive officers and its average workers.

Disney around the World

In 1983, Disney's first overseas theme park opened, in Tokyo, Japan. Although it did not own the park, Disney made money managing it. Its second major foreign development was Euro Disney, built outside Paris, France, and later renamed Disneyland Resort Paris. The park opened in 1992 and lost money at first, but eventually generated a profit for the company. Disney opened a second theme park in Tokyo in 2001, and made plans to open a park in Hong Kong. In March 2002, the company launched a second theme park near Paris called Walt Disney Studios Park.

New Worlds to Conquer

Disney moved farther into television with its 1995 purchase of Capital Cities/ABC for $19.6 billion. The network owned several cable channels, including the hugely successful sports network, ESPN. The company also built a sports complex in Florida and opened a planned community, Celebration. The town, built from scratch, was located just outside Walt Disney World. Already part of the travel industry with its theme parks and hotels, Disney started its own cruise line in 1998. That year, Disney also took a large step into the Internet, buying a large portion of search engine company Infoseek, so it could begin displaying its content on the World Wide Weband create more demand for its products. In 2001, a second park opened in CaliforniaDisney's California Adventure.

Creating a multimedia empire, however, led to problems. By 1999, Eisner was looking for a way to cut costs to ensure future profits. The year before, sales had grown to $23 billion and profits were more than $1 billion. Still, business analysts complained about the company's direction. In 2001, Disney suffered when the September 11 terrorist attacks cut revenues at its theme parks. And while a few of its animated films were successful, none matched the popularity of The Lion King or Beauty and the Beast. Top executives, however, remained confident. Robert Iger, company president, told Fortune in January 2002, "We have an unbelievable array of brands to drive growth and operating income." Around the world, the name Disney still meant fun, wonder, and a sense of magic.

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Walt Disney Co

WALT DISNEY CO.

The Walt Disney Co.'s most successful Internet role was as a content provider. Since the mid-1990s the company has operated Web sites for kids and parents, including Family.com and the subscription-based Blast online. It developed other Web properties, including ESPN.com, ABC.com, ABCNews.com, and other Disney sites. In 1998 the company embarked on a strategy to create an Internet portal to compete with America Online and Yahoo!, among others. It acquired an interest in search engine Info-Seek in 1998 with an eye to transforming it into an Internet portal. In 1999 Disney purchased the rest of InfoSeek and launched the Go.com portal. Go.com was renamed the Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG) in 2000, a separate company that encompassed all of Disney's Internet ventures. With AOL gaining added muscle through its merger with Time Warner, it became clear that Go.com would not be able to compete with the leading Internet portals. After sustaining more than $1 billion in losses from Go.com and other Internet properties, Disney announced plans to close Go.com in 2001 and fold the WDIG back into the company. The company said it would focus on information and entertainment content rather than portals and electronic commerce.

DISNEY PUT ITS CONTENT ONLINE

The Walt Disney Co. launched its free, family-oriented Web site Family.com in 1996. The site had partnerships with more than 100 local parenting publications. It also offered a recipe library and a customized activities index for parents and their children. Parenting sites like Family.com attracted a large percentage of women, and thus advertisers were attracted to the site's demographics.

In 1997 Disney launched its Daily Blast site for kids. This subscription-based site charged $4.95 per month and was aimed at children age 12 and under. Its content included animated storybooks, downloadable games, and educational toys and puzzles. It also featured news and sports stories written by children. Disney's popular charactersincluding Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofywere also present at the site. Through an agreement with Microsoft Corp., users of the Microsoft Network (MSN) had free access to the Daily Blast site.

Other Internet sites operated by Disney at the time included Disney.com, where the company sold its merchandise, and sites affiliated with subsidiaries ABC-TV and ESPN. Disney also owned a majority interest in Starwave, based in Bellevue, Washington, which ran the family-oriented Family Planet site as well as ESPN SportsZone.

Disney.com was a popular site and consistently ranked high in popularity. As more people began to shop online in 1997, Disney.com reported a fivefold increase in online sales over 1996. The shopping site at Disney.com generated about as much revenue as three brick-and-mortar Disney stores, according to the company. In 1998 Disney and bookseller Barnesand-Noble.com teamed up to create Disney book boutiques that featured Disney titles and was available online at both companies' Web sites.

PORTAL STRATEGY FOR E-COMMERCE, 1998-2001

In 1998 Disney acquired a 43 percent interest in Internet search engine InfoSeek, with an option to purchase the rest of the company. At the time media companies in general were looking for ways to achieve a dominant presence on the Internet. NBC had just paid $38 million for a 19 percent interest in Snap!, an Internet portal owned by CNET. Later in the year America Online acquired Netscape Communications and its popular NetCenter portal. As part of its $472 million acquisition of InfoSeek, Disney paid $70 million in cash and turned over ownership of Starwave to InfoSeek. Disney would regain ownership of Starwave when it completed its purchase of all of InfoSeek in 1999. Disney also committed $165 million to provide promotional support for InfoSeek.

Disney's acquisition of InfoSeek was part of its strategy to distribute its content over all available media. Toward the end of 1998 Disney, InfoSeek, and Starwave introduced a new Internet portal, Go.com, in a beta version for consumers, followed by the official launch of the Go Network in January 1999. The home page of the Go Network resembled that of Info-Seek, but it was easily customizable. Content was organized into five major sections, which were accessible through page tabs: a sports area featuring ESPN.com; a news section featuring ABCNews.com; an entertainment area that included ABC.com and MrShowbiz.com; a family and kids area featuring Disney.com; and a personal finance section.

The launch of the Go Network in 1999 was supported by a national television advertising campaign that ran in 14 major markets. At the time of its launch, the Go Network had 20 million unique users, with 8 million of them registered. Following its launch the Go Network added Go Shop, an e-commerce site that featured more than 200 merchants, and Go Games, which offered a variety of individual and multiplayer games. In March 1999 Disney redesigned its Disney.com site, creating 12 content channels and merging its subscription-based Blast Online for kids into Disney.com. With about 80 percent of the new Disney.com content available for free, subscribers could join Club Blast for $5.95 per month or $39.95 per year and gain access to premium content, including the Disney BlastPad, a proprietary kid-safe instant messaging service that parents could control, and the Mouse House Jr., an area designed for children too young to read.

In mid-1999 Disney decided to acquire the remaining 57 percent of InfoSeek for $1.62 billion in stock. It created a new tracking stock company, Go.com, that incorporated InfoSeek, the Go Network, and Disney's Buena Vista Internet Group. When the purchase closed in November 1999, the transaction was valued at $2.15 billion.

DISNEY REVISES ITS INTERNET AND PORTAL STRATEGY, 2000-2001

By early 2000 it was clear that Go.com would not be able to compete with dominant portals such as America Online and Yahoo!. The company reported a loss of more than $1 billion in 1999 from its Internet properties. Adding to Disney's Internet losses was its venture into electronic commerce through a $45 million investment in Toysmart.com in 1999. As was the case with the Go Network, Toysmart.com ran into serious competition when Amazon.com formed an alliance with brick-and-click retailer Toys "R" Us. Toysmart.com officially went out of business in May 2000.

During 2000 Disney attempted to redesign the Go Network portal to concentrate it more on Disney's traditional family-and-fun content, building a self-contained search engine for all of Disney's Internet properties. In August Go.com was renamed the Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG). Later in the year Compaq Computer Corp. became the WDIG's preferred technology provider through a $100 million agreement. The redesigned Go.com Web site was re-launched in September 2000. The new design featured Disney's individual Web sites more prominently. While it kept the InfoSeek search engine, the new Go.com site was designed as a place to find entertainment news and vacation information.

In January 2001 the WDIG and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts formed an online operation called Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Online that expanded Disney's presence on the Internet. In the face of a general economic slowdown and a slowdown in the Internet economy, Disney made deep cuts in its Internet operations in early 2001. The company announced plans to close down the Go Network and the Go.com Web site. In the interim Disney said it would operate a streamlined version of Go.com while it moved services and registered users to other sites. As part of the cutback Disney eliminated 400 jobs and folded the WDIG back into the company. All outstanding shares of WDIG common stock were converted into Disney common stock effective March 20, 2001. In had become clear that the tracking stock company was not providing enough revenue for additional investments or acquisitions or to retain employees. The management of WDIG would continue to be in charge of Disney's remaining Internet properties.

While Disney was not able to create an industry-leading portal, the company's other Internet properties remained leaders in their categories. Its experience with InfoSeek and Starwave enabled Disney to create a single, scalable platform for its Internet businesses. For the future, the company planned to continue to create and operate innovative, highly popular content sites. During 2001 the company was also involved in initiatives to bring online content to automobiles and wireless devices.

FURTHER READING:

Andrews, Whit. "Infoseek, Despite Disney Money, Stumbles on Wall St. as It Charts New Course." Internet World, September 14, 1998.

"Disney Expands Online Presence." Travel Weekly, January 11, 2001.

Donahue, Ann. "New Name, New Attitude." Variety, August 7, 2000.

Donohue, Steve. "With InfoSeek Deal, Disney Joins the Gold Rush to Portals." Electronic Media, June 22, 1998.

Kerstetter, Jim. "New Portal Player Set to Go." PC Week, December 7, 1998.

Lafayette, Jon. "Disney's Internet Launch a Go." Electronic Media, January 18, 1999.

Machlis, Sharon. "Disney to Launch Web Portal." Computer-world, June 22, 1998.

Mermigas, Diane. "How Disney Is Creating Go.com out of Infoseek." Electronic Media, November 22, 1999.

Rose, Frank. "Mickey Online." Fortune, September 28, 1998.

Tedesco, Richard. "Disney Stakes Big 'Net Claim with Info-seek." Broadcasting & Cable, June 22, 1998.

. "Disney.com Redux." Broadcasting & Cable, March 29, 1999.

Wagner, Mitch. "Disney Site Bucks Online Conventions." Computerworld, August 18, 1997.

SEE ALSO: Children and the Internet; Content Provider; Portals, Web

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