Long-term vision will keep you in business

Wednesday March 06 2019

Walt Disney. PHOTO | BBC


In 1901, the world welcomed a man who would change the world. On December 5, 1901, Walt Disney was born.

Passionate about drawing, he believed there was an opportunity for his type of art — which at the time, was rejected by all the publications he sent them to.

He ended up stumbling upon the world of animation which was relatively new at the time, but believed more could be done.

Animations at the time had no sound. Those that did, were horribly synchronised. Disney believed the future of animations was in talking cartoons — or more specifically, synchronised picture and sound. Others thought attaining perfect synchrony was impossible.

People doubted, others tried and failed, but Disney kept pushing and it worked. In 1928, Disney released Steamboat Willie.

It became an instant worldwide hit first synchronised animation film from the studio, changing the entire landscape of what was possible with animation.


It also introduced the world to Disney’s most famous character till date — Mickey Mouse. The Walt Disney Studio became the animation heavyweight and the rest is history.

What I find fascinating about the Disney story is looking at where it started, and where it is today. While their original focus was on animations, today Disney seems to have their hand in about anything that makes sense.

They are proud owners of billion-dollar production houses such as Lucasfilm Ltd (the home of Star Wars), Marvel Studios (home of Avengers, Spiderman etc). They own network companies like ESPN Inc (a sporting media house) and ABC.

They have a retail chain, resorts and theme parks around the world. They have a venture capital arm that is responsible for innovative companies like GoPro today and are even working on their own streaming platform to give Netflix a run for its money.

Today, Disney is a giant worth over $128 billion. My question however is — did Walt Disney see that far ahead? Could he have seen that the company he started nearly 100 years ago would be the platform it is today?

Let’s come closer to our times. Take Apple for instance. Founded in 1976, Apple set out to bring personal computers to everyone’s home.

Fast forward some years, and Apple all of sudden was creating iPods. They went on to disrupt the music industry further with iTunes — giving people a digital way to finally acquire music legally.

They didn’t stop there — they started making phones, and created the first “sellable” tablet (iPad). Today, they are one of the largest streaming platforms in the world for music as well as the world’s largest watch maker. Today, they are working on their own video streaming platform as well as gaming platform.

Today, they are also working on an electric car that should see the light of day in the next few years. My question is — did Steve Jobs see that far ahead? Could he have seen from the beginning that the company he started as a computing giant would eventually become the manufacturer of the world’s best selling phone?

When Shazam – the music recognition platform started to make waves in the late 2000s, they truly took the world by storm.

They provided a valuable solution we all were looking for — identifying songs we didn’t know! This was revolutionary and led Shazam to being downloaded over 1 billion times worldwide, boasting a monthly user base of over 100 million active users.

Wale Akinyemi is the chief transformation officer at Power Talks