Walt Disney: How entertainment became an empire

Walt Disney (DIS) is one of the most successful companies and one of the most powerful sectors in any economy: entertainment. Before becoming a company with a market value of 238.9 billion U.S. dollars,As interests spread all over the world, Disney became more closely tied to the vision of the people named after it. It is this vision that laid the foundation for the company to become the media giant it is today.

On March 20, 2019, Disney officially acquired all the media assets of 21st Century Fox for $71.3 billion, making it the world’s largest media giant.

Pixar, Marvel, and the Star Wars Empire are already part of Disney’s large brands, but the acquisition of 21st Century Fox brings the rest of Marvel Entertainment into the home of mice, including X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool franchises. In addition to Fox owning 30% of the streaming media platform Hulu, the transaction also gives Disney’s former Fox television network such as FX Networks and National Geographic a 60% controlling stake. Disney launched its own streaming service Disney+, which was a blow to Netflix, which has already obtained licenses for several key parts of the Disney library.

Source: The Walt Disney Company

In this article, we will look at the rise of Walt Disney-whether it is an individual or a company-and why Disney is so successful. There is no doubt that even today, his life can teach entrepreneurs a lesson.

Set off again and again

Like many creative talents, Walt Disney’s career began by working for others. In 1919, Walter drove for the U.S. Ambulance during World War I and returned to search for work as an artist. He found it in the Pesmen-Rubin Commercial Art Studio, where he met Ubbe Iwwerks and became friends. Facts have proved that Evoques is one of the most talented animators in the world, and it is also the key to Walter’s subsequent success.

In early 1920, both Walt and Iwwerks were unemployed, so they tried to open their own studios. The first business failed quickly, and the two left to pay for work and did animation at Film Ad Co., where they produced short commercials that were screened before the feature film. It didn’t take long for them to work together to develop a series of ancillary projects for the comedy short film Laugh-O-Grams. Walt and Iwwerks set off together again, turning Laugh-O-Grams into a business. However, the joint venture went bankrupt again in 1923, after which Walter went to Hollywood.

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Key points

  • Walt Disney-People and Company-is one of the most successful and powerful entertainment companies in the world, with a market capitalization of 238.9 billion U.S. dollars.
  • Only by constantly innovating and breaking the boundaries of animation and commerce can the company transform from a moderately successful animation studio into a complete entertainment experience-including theme parks, merchandise sales, cruise ships, and so on.
  • After acquiring 21st Century Fox in March 2019, Disney became the world’s largest media giant.

Disney Brothers

Perhaps Walt’s least popular skill is to convince others to accept his vision. In Hollywood without Iwwerks, Walt persuaded his brother Roy to help him found the Disney Brothers Studio, which was later renamed Walt Disney Studios.Sure enough, Walter quickly asked Iwwerks, who didn’t spell his name Iwerks, to convince him to come back and work with him.

Hard lessons

The Walt Disney Studios are not more profitable than previous incarnations, but it is still maintained. The company is working for Universal Pictures to create a character named Lucky Rabbit Oswald. In 1928, Walter and Roy were surprised to find that, except for Ivokes and a few others, all their animators had been hired by one of his dealings with Universal. In order to salt the wound, Oswald’s copyright belongs to Universal.

This experience made Walter very painful and made him swear to only work for himself. Walter began seeking to deliver his films directly to distributors, but he needed a new role.


There is some controversy about the source of Mickey Mouse; theories range from a wastebasket in Kansas to Iwerks flipping through animal photos and sketches.Regardless of his origin, Mickey Mouse represents the beginning of Disney as we now know it.

Walt formed a new team and worked with Iwerks to develop this new role. The first two films were not a big success, but the third “Willie Steamboat” was a big success. This is also the best early example of a movie that synchronizes sound and animation.

As the company breaks the boundaries of animation, walking at the forefront of technology has become the standard of the curriculum. In the following decades, including during the Great Depression, Disney created the first color cartoon and the first animated feature film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

Disney’s IPO

The cost of these groundbreaking films is so high and the profits are so low that poor box office can still put studios in trouble. Walter and Roy started making great movies in 1940, but they owed a lot of debt. From 1923 to 1938, the Disney Brothers partnership was actually divided into four companies that were successful to varying degrees, and then merged into one in 1938.

On April 2, 1940, Walt Disney Studios issued 155,000 6% convertible preferred shares. The issuance was in the over-the-counter market and raised approximately US$3.875 million for the company.

However, the brothers soon found themselves in debt again, because the box office of the movies we now consider to be masterpieces continues to be weak, namely “Bambi”, “Fantasia” and “Cinderella”. This is not to say that they were unsuccessful, but that the manufacturing cost was very high.

Walter did not slow down, but wanted to do more. The brothers established their own distribution company, Buena Vista, and began producing highly profitable nature documentaries. Walter also began to have illusions about the ultimate amusement park, but this is a gamble that his company cannot afford. Nonetheless, Walt has gradually enriched Disney’s history of adding business units to its core animation studio.

Disney land

In order to create “the happiest place on earth”, a lot of financial operations are required, and Walter did it. Even after using his own life insurance loan to fund a private company, Walter still needs more funds. He had to provide himself, but he was very smart. Walter established another private company with the right to sell under his name.By the way, in 1981, Walt Disney Productions paid $46.2 million in stock repurchase for the company.

Then, he proposed to create a TV series for a TV network that would invest in Disneyland; ABC seized this opportunity.Walter got his funding, and an ABC show became a cultural phenomenon that millions of people watched. Originally named “Disneyland”, but with different titles over the years, the show was broadcast for 29 years.

In 1955, Disneyland finally opened and achieved great success. Over the next five years, Walt Disney Productions purchased Disneyland by acquiring Walt’s private company.In these five years, the total revenue of the Walt Disney Production Company was US$6 million in 1950, increasing from US$27 million to US$70 million.

The marketing, branding and expansion of Walt Disney Productions are all concentrated. Unfortunately, it was destined to continue without one of its founders, because Walter died in 1966. One of his last works, “Mary Poppins”, was the highest paid film in 1964.His brother Roy took over.

Beyond Walter and Roy

After the death of Walt and his brother Roy, Disney was in trouble. The company went public in 1957, and despite its past success and several profitable theme parks, the rise in its stock price was nominal.

In the 1980s, the company was considered to be undervalued in terms of brand equity, including movie catalogs and theme parks, so much so that hostile acquisitions of artists began to circle. The company resisted the acquisition and began to focus on profiting from its huge brand equity.

From the 1980s to the 1990s, the stock price increased by leaps and bounds.Make Disney the largest entertainment empire in the world. The company continues to thrive, thanks in large part to the foundation that Walt and Roy laid for the company.

Bottom line

The history of finance is full of extraordinary personalities and tall characters. Many of the richest people in history achieved this goal by building fur, oil, steel, railways, and of course, software empires. All of these are tangible products with a simple formula: reduce costs and increase sales. Disney, this person and company, is an extraordinary bird.

Only by constantly innovating and promoting not only the boundaries of animation, but also the boundaries of Disney becoming an enterprise, can the company transform from a moderately successful animation studio to a complete entertainment experience-including theme parks, merchandise sales, cruise ships, etc. .

In a sentence often attributed to Walt Disney, Disney’s imaginer once said: “If you can dream, you can do it.”The story of Walt’s life and founding of the company reminds us that once a dream comes true, we must constantly re-dream and reimagine it to succeed.


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