As the House of Mouse continues to sink thanks to poor decision after poor decision, a new report suggests that a number of current and former Disney executives believe CEO Bob Iger has no interest in actually saving the company, but rather ultimately hopes to keep it afloat just long enough to sell it off to Apple.
This insight into the supposed sentiment felt amongst the upper levels of Disney’s corporate structure was first detailed to the public courtesy of CNBC’s Alex Sherman.
Speaking with “more than a dozen past and present Disney executives” as part of a deep-dive analysis into Iger’s disastrous return as CEO, Sherman discovered that many within the company privately “believe Iger’s desired end game is to stay as CEO for as long as possible and then sell the company to Apple.”
Admittedly, such a deal sounds like nothing more than a pipe dream borne from overconfident Wall Street analysts.
However, such a possibility should not be ruled out, as not only has Iger begun to seek outside investment for the Disney-0wned ESPN, but both the company and its current CEO have enjoyed long-standing relationships with the popular tech developer.
Thanks to an investment of roughly $5 million into the fledgling company, late Apple founder Steve Jobs was appointed the chairman of Pixar Animation’s board of directors.
He would hold this position – as well as that of Pixar’s CEO and, at one point, sole owner – until the esteemed-animation studio’s 2006 acquisition by Disney, at which time his duties were rolled into a seat on the House of Mouse’s board of directors.
From there, Jobs would continue serving as a member of Disney’s board all the way up to his death in 2011.
It would be during the organization of this deal that Iger would strike up a friendship with Jobs.
“Steve and I had become good friends since we’d made the Pixar deal,” the CEO recounted to Vanity Fair in September 2019. “We socialized on occasion and talked a few times a week. We vacationed at adjacent Hawaiian hotels a few times and would meet and take long walks on the beach, talking about our wives and kids, about music, about Apple and Disney and the things we might still do together. Our connection was much more than a business relationship. We enjoyed each other’s company immensely, and we felt we could say anything to each other, that our friendship was strong enough that it was never threatened by candor.”
(The two were so close, in fact, that Jobs texted Iger immediately after taking his son to watch Iron Man 2 to let the Disney boss know that “it sucked”.)
However, as far as Iger is publicly concerned, such a sale is not currently at the forefront of Disney’s forward-looking outlook.
Asked during the company’s recent Q3 2023 earnings call whether “you see a plausible scenario where the entire company would be sold?”, the CEO asserted, “I just am not going to speculate about the potential for Disney to be acquired by any company, whether a technology company or not.”
“Obviously, anyone who want to speculate about these things would have to immediately consider the global regulatory environment,” he added. “I’ll say no more than that. It’s just — it’s not something that we obsess about.”
To that end, as seen with Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to acquire Call of Duty and World of Warcraft developer Activision Blizzard, it’s likely that a sale of Disney to Apple – or to anyone, for that matter – would be subject to intense anti-monopoly scrutiny.
Though it’s possible that the entire process would eventually result in a favorable decision to both companies, the potential legal headaches and uphill battles that this deal would entail could be enough to dissuade either entity from even entertaining the idea of acquisition.
As of writing, neither Disney nor Iger have publicly commented on Sherman’s report.