Is there an old-media Internet chieftain with a longer tenure than Steve Wadsworth of Disney? Just a finance guy when he first got involved in Disney's Internet projects in 1995, he survived corporate shakeup after corporate shakeup. He was first named chief of the online group in nine years ago by the long-forgotten Michael Eisner, and held onto that role through spinoff and reorg, bubble and bust and bubble. His latest power grab: seizing control of Disney's videogames unit. A memo from current CEO Bob Iger yammers about synergy between the Internet and mobile content operations Wadsworth oversees and the games unit he's taking over. It all makes a passable amount of sense, as business moves go. But the real explanation for the creation of Wadsworth's new Disney Interactive Media Group?
Disney's ABC and ESPN are eager to have more control over their websites, as their destiny increasingly goes online, shrinking Wadsworth's empire. Adding videogames expands his authority into an especially fast-growing and lucrative area. Perhaps this is how Wadsworth has managed to hold onto power for so long — what serves his interestes in corporate politicking also happens to profit Disney..