When Disney acquired Playdom earlier this year for a mix of $500 – $700 million (depending on how well Playdom does), they not only bought Playdom’s traffic, games, and mix of acquired studios. They also bought John Pleasants, Playdom’s charismatic and let’s just say it, handsome CEO (yes, I feel quite comfortable saying that).
In fact, it has been rumored that the impetus of the well-valued deal was a presentation Mr. Pleasants gave to Disney management and they were so impressed, they made their multi-million dollar offer.
Two months after the acquisition, the love affair between Disney and Mr. Pleasants has not yet turned sour. On the contrary, as reported by Inside Social Games, Disney has named Mr. Pleasants as President for all of Disney Interactive.
With this appointment, Disney is hoping for Mr. Pleasants to wave his magic wand over the Disney Interactive division.
Is he up for the job? Surely, he has a huge challenge. Disney Interactive is the only division in the Disney Empire losing money these days. There are so many entrenched fiefdoms, projects, IP’s and brand managers floating around this group, I would not wish this job on my worse enemy.
Yet, Mr. Pleasants came from Electronic Arts, a company with the same issues as Disney Interactive, so there will be no surprises. And, he clearly gets social games, the importance of brands, and has the ability to manage many different groups with different agendas at Playdom after their huge buying binge.
The Disney Empire holds strong IP that appeals to every demographic on Facebook and that owns an iPhone. Young girls loves the Princesses, boys and men who are boys (e.g., me) dig Marvel’s action heroes. Pixar’s entire catalogue is gold for games. Even their TV division has brands that would be great social games (I’d be first in line to a social version of Modern Family).
It’s a great challenge, but exactly the type of challenge that Disney was trying to solve when it bought into John Pleasants and Playdom.
If John Pleasants succeeds in his run as President of Disney Interactive, the $500 – $700 million price tag for Playdom will look cheap years from now (buying a charismatic leader who can help build billions in value is priceless). If he succeeds, I also predict that John Pleasants will end up CEO of Disney.
It’s a big “if” since the challenge is great, but the upside is that Disney would have transformed itself from a media to a true social media conglomerate.