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Disney Almost Bought Twitter in 2016

Fascinating passage from Bob Iger’s autobiography:

Twitter was a potentially powerful platform for us, but I couldn’t get past the challenges that would come with it. The challenges and controversies were almost too much to list, but they included how to manage hate speech, and making fraught decisions regarding freedom of speech, what to do about fake accounts algorithmically spewing out political “messaging” to influence elections, and the general rage and lack of civility that was sometimes evident on the platform. Those would become our problems. They were so unlike any we’d encountered, and I felt they would be corrosive to the Disney brand. On the Sunday after the board had just given me the go-ahead to pursue the acquisition of Twitter, I sent a note to all of the members telling them I had “cold feet”, and explaining my reasoning for withdrawing. Then I called Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, who was also a member of the Disney board. Jack was stunned, but very polite. I wished Jack luck, and I hung up feeling relieved.

In hindsight it makes no sense for Twitter to be under Disney’s brand. It might make sense if Disney were just one brand under the ABC umbrella (as opposed to the reality of ABC and ESPN being brands under the Disney umbrella), but not with Disney as the foundation. But: maybe? Presumably a Twitter under Disney would be a very different Twitter today.

Friday, 12 June 2020