Billionaire Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, who sold Marvel to Walt Disney Co. for $4 billion in 2009. has argued in a rare interview that the Hollywood giant fired him over business differences.
“I have no doubt that my firing was based on fundamental differences in business between my mindset and Disney’s leadership, because I care about return on investment,” he said. told the Wall Street Journal.
While returning Disney CEO Bob Iger is focused on cutting 7,000 jobs and $5.5 billion in costs in a drive for efficiency, Perlmutter argued that in his case, this was “just a convenient excuse to get rid of a former executive who dared to challenge the company’s path.” of doing business.”
Example: political confrontations. Amid Disney’s ongoing battle with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Perlmutter told the log what advice he gave to Disney executives: “Don’t get involved in politics. You’re going to get hurt. It is a non-profit situation.” One of Disney’s largest individual shareholders, he also shared that he called the politician to tell him, “Ron, you’re right. Disney has no right to get involved in politics.”
Last year, Disney froze political donations in the state because of the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law, which bans discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in classrooms for young students. DeSantis retaliated by signing legislation dissolving independent special tax districts that give Disney privileges of self-government and exemption from certain regulations and fees related to emergency services and development planning. Before DeSantis took office, the board of trustees approved an agreement transferring control of Disney’s future development planning to the company. However, the new oversight board recently voted to hire outside legal counsel to look into the agreement, with a legal challenge widely expected.
At Disney’s annual shareholders’ meeting on Monday, Iger called the state’s actions over the past year “anti-business” and “anti-Florida,” emphasizing that corporations have the right to freedom of speech.
Perlmutter also told the log about disagreements over Disney’s motion picture business strategy. While Disney’s Marvel films have grossed more than $23 billion worldwide, he pushed for more focus on profitability. “All they talk about is cash register, cash register,” Perlmutter told the newspaper. “I care about the bottom line. I don’t care how big the cash register is. Only people in Hollywood talk about box office.”
The log report also said that Perlmutter picked up the phone to voice his concerns to allies like former CEO Bob Chapek if he was unhappy with Disney’s business approaches or strategies. He also found a kindred spirit in activist investor Nelson Peltz who launched a proxy battle against Disney in late 2022. log said that Perlmutter was not formally involved in Peltz’s campaign, he called Disney board members and lobbied them to add Peltz to the board to allow for budget cuts.
“In my experience with a large company, when they have problems… usually people like Nelson Peltz know how to get it back on track,” Perlmutter countered. “One thing I’ve learned all my life about creative people is you can’t give them an open credit card… They’ve been doing this for 30 years, why should they change?”
Peltz ended his bid to join the Disney board when Iger revealed cost-cutting plans in February.