Eisner made over $700 million in 5 years
Wednesday, March 27, 2002 by Dave Winer.
On Monday an op-ed piece ran in the Financial Times by Disney CEO Michael Eisner. It's a highly moralistic essay, about slavery and Abraham Lincoln. Eisner says Lincoln would have loved the Internet and hated the piracy. It's a must-read for people who want to understand the faceoff between the entertainment industry and its users, with the technology industry caught in the middle. I have strong opinions about this both as a user of their product, and a member of the tech industry.
After reading his essay, I got interested in who Michael Eisner is. It didn't take much time to find out, for example, via Forbes, that he made over $700 million in five years. At the same time he argues the financial interest of creative people. So which creative people will speak for Eisner's position? They are conspicuously silent. How much money flowed to them while he was making all that money?
We're in the post-Enron era. Arthur Andersen, one of the Big 8 accounting firms, is being shut down over ethical issues. When a CEO of Eisner's stature takes the philosophical stage, calling music fans pirates, he's going to get looked at, and when we maintain our self-respect, we find that he's not above reproach.
In fact he's is dangerously out on a limb, but I doubt if he sees it. Napster wasn't a narrow thing. There were tens of millions of users. It was a cultural phenomenon, bigger than anything Hollywood has ever manufactured. People know what nirvana looks like, we got a great demo, and that's what we want.
Business is simple, but Eisner makes it sound complex. Find a way to give the people what they want and you stay in business. Try to turn the clock back, and become a memory. They had a good thing going for a long time. The users got snookered into giving him all the money and none to the creative people. That's over. Imho, Eisner and his ilk were the pirates.
PS: IMHO stands for In My Humble Opinion.
PPS: How quickly we've turned back to greed after the terrorism of 2001. For a while we were focused on improving communication and the value of freedom. Now we're back to defending freedom and open communication against pure and obvious greed. We're in deep trouble here in the US, imho.