In October of 2012, it was announced that the Walt Disney Co. was acquiring Lucasfilm Ltd from George Lucas for $4.05 Billion. Here are 3 things small business owners can take-away from this news:
Speaking of the acquisition, Disney CEO Rober Iger said “This is one of the great entertainment properties of all time, one of the best branded and one of the most valuable.” That being the case, was the $4 Billion that Disney paid top-dollar for a franchise that has already peaked? Probably not. Iger went on to say that “it’s just fantastic for us to have the opportunity to both buy it, run it and grow it.” In other words, the acquisition was not just about buying cash-flow, but it was also about buying potential. It is not about acquiring for the sake of having, but about investing in the future. There are already plans for additional movies, and merchandising and theme-park features can’t be far behind. Small business owners looking to expand should take note and look beyond what the cash-flow their expansion will provide, but also what additional opportunities for leverage their expansion would create.
George Lucas said “one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next.” By selling LucasFilm to Disney, he accomplished two key goals. First, Lucas ensured that the Star Wars franchise development will outlive him and be part of his legacy. Second, with an extra $4 Billion in his pocket, he has even more resources to pursue other goals. Very few small business owners plan on running their business until the day they die, but how many have a solid exit strategy? If you are in this latter group, building the strongest, most valuable business that you can now will enable carrying out your ideal scenario for exiting your business. That brings us to
Clearly, the Start Wars franchise has been a passion of Lucas’ for many years. Lucas was so particular about the “look & feel” of Star Wars that he even created two companies, Industrial Light and Magic (for Special Effects) and Skywalker Sound. The entire THX audio designation was all about quality assurance for theaters being able to faithfully reproduce sound in movies. But Star Wars itself is only part of Lucas’ story. Lucas bootstrapped his way into the film industry with a short film he directed as a graduate student that then became Lucas first feature-length film before the landmark America Graffitti. Now, Lucas plans on returning to short, independent films, as well as his philanthropic endeavors. Many times, small business owners become consumed with running their businesses and they forget about why they are in that business, or what else they might be doing with their time.
How about you? What do you make of the Disney-Lucasfilm deal and, more importantly, do you have a sound strategy to grow, run, and exit your business at the right time so that you will always be doing what you love?