decision to add some heft to its strategic operations allows the company to continue edging out of the shadow of departing chief Michael Eisner.
To help the company face multifaceted changes in the media industry, CFO Tom Staggs has reconfigured the leadership of the entertainment giant's strategy unit. The company says that the newly constituted group will work in close collaboration with the company's individual business units, where many planning responsibilities will now reside.
Of course, the highly centralized nature of strategic planning under the Eisner regime became one of many sore points with Disney's many critics. Since his March 14 appointment as CEO-to-be, Bob Iger has made an effort to patch things over with Disney partners that were rubbed raw by Eisner's imperial style. Iger's gains have led investors to speculate that Disney can mend fences with
, for instance.
The retooled strategy, business development and technology unit will be led by two executives who have plenty of new-media experience. Executive vice president Kevin Mayer will lead what the company says is a "smaller, tightly-focused group as it targets emerging businesses new to Disney's existing portfolio."
Mayer, who will report to Staggs, rejoins Disney from L.E.K. Consulting, where he led its global media and entertainment practice. That unit focused on M&A activity and strategies for new technology ventures, including portable and online music services and devices along with video on demand and broadband services. He was also heavily involved in creating anti-piracy strategies for the studios. Previously, Mayer was chairman and CEO of Clear Channel Interactive, and he worked at Disney in strategic planning and at its Internet group.
President Marty Yudkovitz was named senior vice president for corporate strategy and business development, reporting to Mayer. Yudkovitz played an instrumental role in setting TiVo's cable distribution relationship with
. As an exec with NBC for 20 years, Yudkovitz headed NBC business development and led deals that created MSNBC, helped launch CNBC and founded NBC Digital Media.
Disney's former strategy unit members have been largely redeployed into its individual business units. The company says that the newly constituted group will work in close collaboration with the company's individual business units, where many planning responsibilities will now reside.
"The company is taking a more nimble approach to strategic and business development at the divisional level and providing greater authority, responsibility, and accountability for our business executives," said Staggs in a statement.
Disney was down 8 cents Tuesday at $25.01.