Michael D. Eisner

Michael D. Eisner

Aspen Institute Trustee, Former Chairman & CEO, The Walt Disney Company

Michael Eisner has been a leader in the American entertainment industry for four decades. He began his career at ABC, where he helped take the network to number one in primetime, daytime and children’s television. In 1976, he became president of Paramount Pictures, turning out a string of critically acclaimed and blockbuster films that positioned the studio as the most profitable in both theatrical movies and network television production.

In 1984 Michael assumed the position of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company and, in the ensuing 21 years, transformed it from a film and theme park company with $1.8 billion in enterprise value into a global media empire valued at $100 billion.

In 2005, Michael began the “next act” of his career, by founding the Tornante Company; a privately held company that makes investments in and incubates companies and opportunities in the media and entertainment space.

Through Tornante, Michael also founded Vuguru, an independent studio that develops and finances scripted, story-driven content for digital and international platforms. Backed by Canada’s Rogers Media, the company develops, finances and licenses premium scripted content to a global set of distribution partners with large audiences. Vuguru’s inaugural series “Prom Queen” pioneered the online serial space with its unique format and distribution. Vuguru programming has been distributed in over 40 countries around the world, and in 2010, the company structured a first-of-its-kind international sales & distribution commitment for 10 projects with UK-based Content Media Corporation. In the U.S., Vuguru has multi-project licensing and distribution deals with AOL, Hulu and Yahoo!. In 2011, Vuguru announced a major partnership with Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment to launch a premium YouTube channel called Stan Lee’s World of Heroes.

In October 2007, The Tornante Company and Madison Dearborn Partners, LLC. acquired The Topps Company, Inc., a leading creator and marketer of sports and related cards, entertainment products, and distinctive confectionery items.

Tornante is also a lead investor in Rising Beverage Company, LLC’s Activate™, a performance beverage and bottled water company. Additional companies within the Tornante portfolio include Tornante Animation, WhoWhatWear, Task Rabbit, Zumbox and AirTime.

Michael’s third book, WORKING TOGETHER: Why Great Partnerships Succeed, was published by Harper Studio in September 2010 and profiles several successful partnerships in the business world and beyond, including Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, Bill and Melinda Gates, and others. He is also the author of Camp and Work in Progress, which he wrote with Tony Schwartz.