Bob Iger explains why Disney didn’t buy Twitter

Elon Musk wanted to buy Twitter. Then he decided he didn’t.

Bob Iger can understand.

Back in 2016, then-Disney CEO Iger convinced himself that his company needed to own Twitter because it would be a great way to spread Disney content around the world. Then, shortly before the 2016 US presidential election, he bailed out.

Iger has told parts of this story before, but it always struck me as confusing: In his 2019 memoir, he said Disney and Twitter’s boards agreed to the deal, but then he thought because of the endemic “wickedness”. on Twitter.

Oh good? Wasn’t the badness obvious to anyone who had ever used the service for a second, let alone someone who was willing to spend billions on it?

But today we got a longer version of the story, relayed by Iger at the Code Conference, in response to a question from Alex Heath of The Verge. In it, Iger says Twitter would have been a “phenomenal” distribution platform for Disney but it would have come with too many headaches. Among them: bots. (Sound familiar?)

Here is Iger, in his own words:

“We intended to get into the streaming business. We needed a technological solution. We have all this excellent intellectual property. We were not a technology company. How do you get this intellectual property to consumers around the world? …and we were kicking the tires left and right. We thought about expanding. Five years, $500 million. It wasn’t the money, it was the time, because the world was changing fast. And at the same time, we learned that Twitter was considering a sale.

“We immediately enter the process, seeing Twitter as the solution: a global distribution platform. It was considered a kind of social network. We saw it as something completely different. We could put news, sports, entertainment, [and] reach the world. And frankly, that would have been a phenomenal solution, in terms of distribution.

“Then after selling the whole concept to the Disney board and the Twitter board, and we’re really ready to execute – the negotiation was about to end – I went home, j I thought for a weekend and thought, “I” I’m not looking at this as carefully as I need to. Yes, it’s a great solution from a distribution point of view. But it would come with so many other challenges and complexities that as a manager of a major global brand, I wasn’t ready to take on major distraction and have to deal with circumstances that weren’t even close to everything. what we had encountered before.

“Interestingly enough, because I’ve been reading the news these days, we’ve been looking very carefully at all of the Twitter users – I guess they call themselves users? – and we at that time felt with the help of Twitter that a substantial portion – not a majority – were not real.

“I don’t remember the number, but we have reduced the value sharply. But it was part of our economy. In fact, the deal we had was pretty cheap.

“Then of course you have to look at all the hate speech and the potential to do as much harm as good. We are in the business of making Disney entertainment – of doing nothing but good, even though there are others today who criticize Disney for the opposite, which is wrong. It was just something that we weren’t ready to take on and I was not ready to take on as the CEO of a company and I thought that would have been irresponsible.

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