January 20, 2004
Roy Disney Jr. and Stanley Gold are ready to fight. They aren't so much battling Disney (NYSE: DIS ) as they are battling time. When the two former board members resigned last month and asked CEO Michael Eisner to follow their lead, you got the feeling that something worth watching was going down.
Providing the kind of entertainment that's been missing since Disney ruled the animation and broadcast network worlds a few years ago, Roy and Stanley launched SaveDisney.com. It's not every day that disgruntled executives take their case to the masses. When Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE: HPQ ) Walter Hewlett narrowly lost his battle against Carly Fiorina's controversial acquisition of Compaq, he didn't go off and launch SaveHP.com. When Steve Jobs was booted from Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) , he didn't crack his knuckles and start pecking away at SaveApple.com.
However, the pool of Disney traditionalists clamoring for a return to quality theatrical animation and family theme park attractions runs deep. SaveDisney.com was a natural. There, Roy and Stanley can state their case, showcase the opinion of sympathizing media members and fans, and keep Hook's timepiece clicking the seconds away in their bellies.
It is, ultimately, a battle against time. Fiscal 2004 should be a good year for Disney. Even if the company were placed on autopilot, it would be hard to avoid the economic tailwind angling towards prosperity. Even if ABC continues to lag General Electric's (NYSE: GE ) NBC and Viacom's (NYSE: VIA ) CBS in the ratings, higher ad rates should benefit all of the broadcasters. Even if only EPCOT and Disney's California Adventure have opened significant new attractions recently, all of the parks should fare well as disposable income helps bankroll more Disney vacations over the summer. Disney's box office success in 2003 will lead to prosperous ways in the home video and DVD markets.
Roy and Stanley have a legitimate beef. While one can argue that the restoration process stood a better chance from the inside, this approach can be louder. It has to be. Inertia dictates that every passing quarter of improvement will thin out more of the anti-Eisner protestors. So, can you feel the urgency? Swift and steady is the only way to inherit the tailwind.
While Disney's latest animated feature tanked at the box office over the weekend, can Disney still emerge as the teacher's pet? Is SaveDisney.com productive or counterproductive to the future of Disney? All this and more -- in the Disney discussion board. Only on Fool.com.