Project Entrepreneurs Want to Keep Control

(p. 152) As late as January 1940, Disney still resisted selling stock–“I wanted to build this in a different way,” he told sonic of his artists–but by then his need for money was such that going public had become the lesser of evils. Preferred stock in Walt Disney Productions was offered to the public on April 2, 1940. The money raised helped pay for the Burbank studio ($1.6 million) and retired other debts (more than $2 million). The common stock remained in the Disneys’ hands. The company took out a $1.5 million insurance policy on Walt’s life.

Disney remembered having lunch with Ford Motor Company executives a few days after the stock issue, when he passed through Detroit on his way back from New York. Henry Ford himself joined the group after lunch, and when Disney told the old autocrat about selling preferred stock, Ford said. “If you sell any of it, you should sell it all.” That remark, Disney said, “kind of left me thinking and wondering for a while.” Ford “wanted that control,” Disney said. “That’s what he meant by that.” Disney shared the sentiment, even in relatively small matters. On July 1, 1940, he told the studio’s publicity department: “From now on all publicity going out of this studio must have my O.K. before it is released. There shall be no exceptions to this rule.”

Barrier, Michael. The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney. 1 ed. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2007.

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