Disney's Acquisition of Pixar

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Case Details:

Case Code : BSTR203
Case Length : 13 Pages
Pages Period : 1995-2005
Organization : Walt Disney Company, Pixar
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note :Not Available
Countries : US
Industry : Media and Entertainment

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Introduction Contd...

Industry analysts were of the view that, apart from gaining access to Pixar's technology, it was important that Disney got a person of the caliber of Jobs on its board. Asserting this, Tim Bajarin, President, Creative Strategies said, "His biggest impact will be to help guide Disney into the digital age and be the mediator of this major media company's content to the world of next-generation digital content delivery."7

Background Note


In 1923, Walt Elias Disney (Walt)8 arrived in California from Kansas City, bringing with him an animation film, Alice's Wonderland.9 On October 16, 1923, M.J Winkler (Winkler), a distributor, agreed to distribute the Alice Comedies and bought each character for US$ 1,500. This marked the beginning of Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, with Walt's brother Roy Disney (Roy) sharing an equal partnership in the venture. Later, the name was changed to Walt Disney Studio. In 1927, after making Alice Comedies for four years, Walt created a new character called Oswald the Lucky Rabbit10 to start a new animation series. By this time, Winkler had handed over the business to her husband Charles Mintz (Mintz).

After a year, as Oswald gained popularity, Walt tried to re-negotiate his contract for higher money. However, by that time, Mintz had poached Walt's employees to create an Oswald's series in his own studio. Walt also learned that he did not legally own the rights for Oswald. When Mintz demanded that Walt should work exclusively for him, Walt refused and parted ways.

After his break-up with Mintz, Walt wanted to create a character stronger than Oswald. He visualized a new character in the form of a mouse and planned to name it 'Mortimer,' but on his wife's suggestion changed it to 'Mickey.' This marked the birth of the world famous 'Mickey Mouse' (Mickey). Initially, it was not easy for Walt to sell the new Mickey to the distributors as it had to compete with the popular Felix the Cat11 and Oswald. Walt's first animation film featuring Mickey, Plane Crazy (released in May 1928), failed to impress the audience who felt that Mickey resembled Oswald closely. Walt created the second Mickey feature film titled The llopin' Gaucho, but couldn't find distributors...

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7] "Jobs + Disney = Major Force," The Sydney Morning Herald, January 25, 2006.

8] Walt Disney was born on December 05, 1901 in Chicago. Since his childhood he was very interested in drawing. He spent his spare time in drawing which he sold to some of his neighbors.

9] Along with animator and cartoonist, Ubbe Ert Iwwerks and the staff of Laugh-O-Grams studio (which later became bankrupt), Disney made a 10 minute film titled Alice's Wonderland. The film featured a combination of live action and animation, which showed a girl named Alice playing with an animated cat called Julius. Several other films were made and the series was popularly known as the Alice Comedies.

10] Oswald, the Lucky Rabbit, was introduced after Alice Comedies. The all cartoon series featured adventures of a rabbit named Oswald.

11] Felix was a cartoon cat created in the early 1900s by cartoonist Otto Messmer.


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