I just got out of the 2008 Shareholder Meeting, and it was perhaps the most quiet one I have attended since the one that got snowed in a few years ago. I don't know if it was the venue or the snow (who knew it snows in New Mexico), but there were only about 100 folks in attendence by my guess. Also there were no celebrities (unless you count Bob Iger or a family that won an extreme makeover), and there were no big announcments. We did get to see a new trailer for Wall-e. The trailer made me more excited about the film as we get to see what happens after he leaves earth and we see other characters. I am sure the trailer will be at a theater or desktop near you soon. While the meeting lacked pizzaz the smaller setting allowed us to get one on one time with John Pepper, the Chairman of the Board, and other Disney executives which we don't get to do when the venue is much larger.
The theme this year was around the Disney Difference and the power of the Disney name and content. The focus was on creating great content and using technology to not only create it, but to let people get that content in many more ways. This is not knew philosophy and plays in to Bob's original strategic priorities of creativity, technology, and international expansion. But the company is doing very well, even in tough economic times so I am not surprised to hear a "more of the same" attitude.
There was no Evelyn this year, but there were many folks that wanted to give their two cents, from praise to criticism. But even when the questions were tough, Bob Iger and John Pepper did not falter. While they might admit mistakes have been made, they are confident in their decisions. This confidence comes across when they answer the critical questions, as they don't stumble. They know what their decisions were and they know why they made those decisions. This confidence has not always been present at shareholder meetings.
The company is performing well both on the creative side and the financial side (though I would argue one causes the other). And as a Disney fan and shareholder I am very proud of my company. If a boring shareholder meeting is the by-product of the success the company is having, thats fine by me.