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3 Visionary CEOs That Made All the Difference for Shareholders

By Demitri Kalogeropoulos, Brian Withers, and Rachel Warren – Updated Oct 15, 2021 at 4:00PM

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Putting the spotlight on leaders from Netflix, Disney, and Bumble.

The right CEO can make all the difference in an investment.

In this video from "The 5" on Motley Fool Liverecorded on Oct. 4, Fool.com contributors Brian Withers, Rachel Warren and Demitri Kalogeropoulos share their perspective about why leaders of Disney (DIS -3.52%), Bumble (BMBL -1.13%), and Netflix (NFLX -2.44%) have been so instrumental in long-term investor returns.

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Brian Withers: News item number 4, the Wall Street Journal had an article about Jony Ive. If you remember, he was a chief designer under Steve Jobs for Apple for a really long time. He had a very in-depth interview and the title of the article was Jony Ive on what he misses most about Steve Jobs. It's really hard to compare a legend like Steve Jobs on what he did for Apple, but wondering to give it a try.

[laughs] Is there a leader that you admire that is on par with almost legend status. Rachel I'm going to give you a break around this one. Demitri's up first.

Demitri Kalogeropoulos: Sure. That is a hard shoes to fill there. I've got to say Reed Hastings, the Co-CEO and founder of Netflix. You can look at the stock price chart. I was looking at the market cap stock over the last 12 years or so. Is about the time to watch there is less than somewhere around that eight billion dollar mark. Now it's over $250 billion business. That by itself is amazing. I was just thinking about some of the competitors that they faced early on in a blockbuster, of course. The Walmart did a big push into the digital video. We had Redbox with those DVDs and dozens and dozens of other competitors in the online streaming space. More recently Disney, which getting in there.

Reed Hastings has been great I think in saying no to a lot of things which is I think important for visionary CEO. They had a lot of pressure to, for example, get into the digital advertising space early on where places like Hulu, most companies, YouTube is ad-supported. Obviously, Google's Alphabet, the number 1 streaming platform on Earth.

Netflix just didn't go that route. I think that's proven to be a really good move for the company because they're not getting into some of these privacy issues than a lot of other companies that are in digital advertising are dealing with now like Facebook and Alphabet. Hastings was saying no to live sports and this on-demand pricing model.

Also what you're seeing Disney do a little bit, which I think that's been great to help keep the company on this laser-focused value, or you can stream service and having that clear vision I think has really translate into allowing them to grow into this massive over 200 million global subscribers.

That's been an amazing story to watch over the last, if you think when they just started their content strategy just about a decade ago, it's amazing to see how far the company has come since then. I think it's going to be interesting to watch the next decade for sure.

Rachel Warren: Yeah. I like the Netflix business model. It's hard not to respect the founder who has been able to create a company with so much staying power and innovation. This is definitely hard.

But I said if I had to pick one off the top of my head, I'd have to say Whitney Wolfe who founded and is the CEO of the dating app Bumble. She snacks the place of the youngest self-made billionaire in the world when Bumble made at $2.2 billion IPO back in April. I think a lot of people can attest to the fact that the world of online dating is sometimes the murky place. Her business model is really succeeding in this phase.

One of the things that makes it unique is it's designed not just to help people find romantic relationships, but also just to make social connections and friendships. It has these different tiers of bumble Date, Bumble BFF, Bumble Bizz. Of course, more and more people have been using these kinds of apps during the pandemic to meet people.

In the most recent quarter, revenue increased 38 percent and total paying users increased 20 percent year-over-year. The company's newly public only founded in 2014, but it's just short of being a large-cap company with $9.3 billion market cap last I checked. She has taken this business that's already in the crowded world of online dating apps and really differentiated that. It's growing at a faster rate. Shares are down year-to-date, but I think it's interesting to see what she's done with that.

Withers: It's amazing. You mentioned she's the youngest self-made billionaire. Well, if Bumble is in the first place, she's worked. She was an early executive at Tinder first, and realized that Tinder had a lot to be desired from the women's point-of-view and kudos to her and the success of app Bumble. I think it's going to be around for a long time. That's a great one for bringing forward. I'm going to go with my almost legend, Bob Iger.

People really don't remember Disney before Bob Iger. It was really struggling in the late 90s, early 2000s under Eisner, and before that, Ovitz, who's only there for 16 months. Bob Iger came in right around 2005 and reinvigorated the studios and realized that he needed to make friends with Steve Jobs, and make good with the Pixar deal that Disney was getting ready to send them out and stop the distribution and realize that Pixar has built something really special. He had that management team come in and run the animation studios for Disney.

Not only do the buy Pixar, but made the bold move of letting them run Disney Animation Studios. Absolutely amazing. Then the list of acquisitions after that, Marvel, Star Wars, 20th Century Fox, Disney, Five-bag during his time at the helm, and even more if you consider dividends. Consider that decade previous to Iger,

Disney wasn't a good investment to trailed the market over those 10 years, even with dividends. Pretty impressive.

Rachel Warren has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Netflix and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Bumble Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Stocks Mentioned

Walt Disney Stock Quote
Walt Disney
DIS
$95.93 (-3.52%) $-3.50
Netflix Stock Quote
Netflix
NFLX
$312.59 (-2.44%) $-7.82
Bumble Stock Quote
Bumble
BMBL
$24.52 (-1.13%) $0.28

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