The Motley Fool's readers have spoken, and I have heeded your cries. After months of pointing out CEO gaffes and faux pas, I've decided to make it a weekly tradition to also point out corporate leaders who are putting the interests of shareholders and the public first and are generally deserving of praise from investors. For reference, here is last week's selection.
This week, I'm going to the big screen and highlighting DreamWorks Animation's (NASDAQ:DWA) CEO, Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Kudos to you, Mr. Katzenberg
If you want a job, you can check Craigslist. However, if you want a career filled with incredible perks and innovative technologies that allow you to be creative, then say hello to DreamWorks Animation.
DreamWorks is one of the leading animated film producers in the world and is Disney's (NYSE:DIS) most direct animation production competitor. DreamWorks' most profitable animations include the Shrek, Madagascar, and Kung Fu Panda series, with four of its animations currently in the top 50 grossing movies of all time!
Understanding that Disney's success has rested with its key partnerships (note the recent deal between Disney and Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), for example), DreamWorks has focused on surrounding itself with premier partnerships and technologies. The studios' latest release, Rise of the Guardians, relies heavily on technologies developed by Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ). HP's flexible cloud-compute service provided 20% of the rendering for this movie, while HP Z800 and Z820 workstations and HP Dreamcolor monitors further helped with rendering and color consistency. HP has played an important role in a number of DreamWorks' key releases.
Another major partner is McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), one of the most globally recognizable brand names, which joined forces with DreamWorks in 2007, ending a 10-year licensing deal with Disney in an effort to appeal to a younger and more diverse crowd. In return for the promotion within McDonald's restaurants, DreamWorks is responsible for certain aspects of marketing and for creating unique commercials for the McDonald's franchise that revolve around their partnered animations.
DreamWorks actually beat Disney to the punch, signing a streaming video content deal with Netflix through 2018. Netflix gives DreamWorks instant access to family living rooms and Netflix benefits by getting many of the top animation films of all-time added to its streaming library of movies.
What DreamWorks has been able to accomplish as a movie studio is truly phenomenal, because box-office ticket sales have been in a slow decline for a decade, and it's only produced around two dozen films since its founding. This means most of the company's animations do turn out to be a success. DreamWorks' most recent quarter would attest to this, as revenue jumped 16% to $186.3 million and net income soared 24% to $24.4 million over the year-ago period.
A step above his peers
Aside from its partnerships and its use of leading technologies, what makes Katzenberg's company stand out most is the incredible fun work environment that often lands DreamWorks on various "Top Companies to Work For" lists.
To start, DreamWorks offers its employees movie screenings, art and short-film festivals, artistic development classes, and other family oriented get-togethers. DreamWorks also features a full-time on-site doctor's office, offers on-site yoga classes, and gives its employees free fresh breakfasts and lunches every day.
What's even more notable about the collaborative team effort presented by Katzenberg is that he blogs on a daily basis to his employees about what's going on with the company. Transparency at the top is a common trait of highly successful companies, and DreamWorks is no different.
Katzenberg and DreamWorks' other two co-founders, Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, also understand that it's important to share with the community that allows DreamWorks to be so successful. In October, all three men donated $30 million (for a cumulative $90 million) to the Motion Picture and Television Fund, which assists seniors and offers health services to needy members in the entertainment industry.
Two thumbs up
Jeffrey Katzenberg is one of those incredible CEOs who's showing the world that it's not all about the money. By fostering a tightly knit group of employees with innumerable perks and allowing them to express themselves via cutting-edge technologies, Katzenberg has quietly built an animation studio with an incredible track record. From the inside out, Jeffrey Katzenberg is truly a remarkable CEO worthy of a two thumbs up from me.
Do you have a CEO you'd like to nominate for this prestigious weekly honor? If so, head on over to the new CEO of the Week board and chime in with your fellow Fools on who deserves some praise. If you don't have a nominee yet, don't worry; you can still weigh in on other members' selections.