Wednesday, December 16, 2009

RIP, Roy Disney

Some sad news out of Newport Beach, California, today: Roy Disney has succombed to stomach cancer, almost 43 years to the day after his more famous uncle Walt.

Roy was the 3rd largest stock holder in the Walt Disney Company, and the last member of the founding family to take an active role in its operation as Director Emeritus. He was worth an estimated $1.2 billion.

Prior to his emeritus status, Roy successfully led the overthrow of two CEO's who he believed were leading the company in the wrong direction.

The first was his own cousin-in-law Ron Miller during a hostile takeover attempt back in 1984.

That ushered-in the era of Michael Eisner, a very successful period for the company that saw it return back to its roots in animation while adapting to industry innovations.

But, after twenty years, Roy left the company's board of directors to lead the charge to have Eisner replaced in 2004.

He nearly succeeded, getting a suprising 43% of stockholders to vote against retaining the company's CEO. But, the damage done to Eisner's authority still forced him to resign the following year, before his contract expired.

Roy then returned to the board as Director Emeritus, and reportedly enjoyed seeing the company once again return to its animation roots.

Condolences go out to the Disney family, both private and corporate.

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