The Creative Class: A Conversation with Michael Eisner


Monday, November 9, 2015, 6:15pm to 7:30pm


Starr Auditorium, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Building

American businessman and former CEO of Walt Disney Company (1984-2005) Michael Eisner sits down with Hauser Leader-in-Residence and Los Angeles Philharmonic President Deborah Borda.


About Michael Eisner

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 invests in, acquires, and operates companies in media and entertainment.  

In October 2007, Tornante and Madison Dearborn Partners acquired The Topps Company, a leading creator and marketer of sports cards, distinctive confectionery, and other entertaining products for well over 50 years. Under Michael’s vision and leadership, the iconic company is transforming into a global sports media brand with relationships covering MLB, Premier League, Bundesliga, IPL, WWE, Star Wars, Facebook and Netflix.  It launched a digital division, featuring 2 of the top 3 highest grossing sports apps in the Apple app store, as well as offices and businesses in Germany, India, Brazil and Argentina.

Through Tornante, Michael also founded Tornante Animation. In 2013, Netflix licensed the distribution rights to animated comedy “BoJack Horseman” from Tornante Animation, making this the first animated original series for adults to appear on the streamer. Previously, “Glenn Martin, D.D.S.” was licensed from Tornante Animation by Nick At Nite (US), CityTV (Canada), Sky (UK), and Foxtel (Australia) among others.

Additional companies within the Tornante portfolio include Clique Media, Task Rabbit, 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.