Looking back on Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm
On the cusp of the release of Star Wars Episode IX, I revisited a post I wrote in 2012 regarding Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm from George Lucas.
In it I postulated that Lucasfilm was worth far more than the $4B purchase price but that Lucas structured the deal to make up for that over the long term growth of the combined companies.
It is worth going back and reading that post to see what many were thinking that Disney would do and compare it to what they’ve done so far. I’d say they’ve executed the playbook beautifully.
So how did old George do on this deal?
I haven’t followed along too much to know if he’s done any large sell-offs of his Disney stock or anything. But, remember, he put a cool $2B in cash in his pocket with a single signature on the day the deal finalized. The other $2B was taken in Disney stock – which at the time was trading at around $50/share.
Today the stock is trading at around $150/share.
Assuming he’s sold zero shares, his $2B in Disney stock has nearly tripled in worth already.
But the decision wasn’t all about the money of course. George wasn’t exactly starving at the time this sale went down. How has Disney done in managing the Star Wars franchise and the companies? From my seat, very, very well. It is likely a big reason why Bob Iger is Time’s Businessperson of the Year this year.
The new films in the Star Wars Skylwalker saga has taken their licks – but no worse than in the prequel era. I’d say the sequels have been better reviewed than the prequels by a long shot. The spinoff films of Solo and Rogue One are very good. And The Mandalorian is excellent. Not to mention the Star Wars-related additions to Disneyland and Disney World that are getting rave reviews as well. Oh and the books and toys and comics and everything else. So from a creative stand-point, I think Star Wars has been stewarded better than Lucas could have done on his own.
ILM, Lucas Arts, etc. have all had award winning projects that shipped. There are too many to name but if you look up each company and what they’ve done since 2012, they’ve really done some amazing work and the hits just keep on coming.
Acquisitions rarely go well. In fact, in the tech industry acquisitions almost always go poorly for one reason or another. Disney has proven they can do enormous acquisitions like Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Marvel and create a better result than the sum of their parts. All while George counts his money while eating his popcorn at the movies.