Nelson Peltz will be a name that is remembered around the world for more than his investment career. Depending on your point of view, he is the hero or villain who challenged Disney to create change. It all started with a boardroom challenge that evolved into a dramatic tale of back and forth involving proxy votes, SEC filings, and letters to shareholders.
All that came to an end yesterday when Peltz officially called off his attack on the Walt Disney Company board, reportedly appeased by the action plan outlined by Bob Iger. While some might see this as a defeat for the TRIAN co-founder, I can’t help but wonder if he has, in fact, succeeded in his quest to force change upon the 100-year-old company.
The goal was to draw attention to the inner workings of the Disney board, placing ownership over the last few years of decision-making back in the hands of those still occupying their seats; instead of allowing it all to be swept under the rug along with former CEO Bob Chapek. Sure enough, Peltz ticked the box, making headlines worldwide as he challenged the Disney powers that be, taking aim at everything from the 2019 Fox acquisition to Bob Iger’s salary.
People sat up and took notice, not just board members and shareholders but consumers who have long demanded more from Disney executives as they lost sight of the guest experience, especially in the Disney Parks.
The result was a very public series of changes required to bring the Disney audience in good favor with the entertainment giant. When a social game of niceties didn’t convince Park-goers that change was afoot, the situation demanded a more permanent solution that came in the form of price alterations and procedural changes.
However, these weren’t going to be enough to satisfy shareholders whose attention had been squarely drawn to the poorly performing company regarding the overall bottom line. Substantial moves needed to be made to offset the enormous amount of spending happening behind the content streaming scenes. A debt that the whole company would ultimately pay for in a new cost-reduction plan was announced at the Q1 Earnings Report Call, where Bob Iger broke the news of 7000 jobs being axed.
I can’t help but wonder if any of this would have happened had it not been for Peltz pushing the envelope and demanding a public response to what had become a public problem. Peltz dropped the curtain on the hush-hush problem-solving tactics of the Disney board and provoked a change that might just see old Disney values begin to return. Let me know what you think. Did Nelson Peltz ultimately change Disney’s trajectory for the better?
Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.
Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.