While much has been written about how this deal strengthens both entertainment companies, I believe that both Disney and Lucasfilm present the tech world with several valuable business lessons.
Develop -- and constantly pursue -- your vision.
Great culture follows great leadership -- and a lot of leadership is vision. Think about the kind of impact you want your firm to have on the world. What you want your business to stand for, and what kind of culture you want your company to have. Then bring that vision into reality.
Both Disney and Lucasfilm were founded by imaginative entrepreneurs who brought a singular vision to the worlds they created. Disney built the happiest place on earth while Lucas took us to a galaxy far, far away.
Delight your audiences at all times.
Know who your audience is and create solutions and experiences that speak to them. This is true for tech just as it is for entertainment.
Lucasfilm and Disney create worlds that are beloved by fans. From the iconic imagery of the Star Wars films to the excitement of Disney theme park rides, both companies connect with people on an emotional level.
Taking the time to thrill and delight your users at all times will not only help you develop better technology, it will turn your “customers” into “fans”.
Innovate like your company’s life depends on it (because it does).
Both Lucasfilm and Disney constantly push the limits of technology with their groundbreaking work.
Innovation isn’t restricted to engineering and product development, though. Find ways to innovate across your entire business and foster forward thinking whether you’re shipping products, planning logistics, or managing financial operations. There is always room for creativity.
At Ooyala, we recently held a “COGS-a-THON” (vs. the more conventional Hack-a-Thon) to help build better best practices and reduce our overall operating expenses. Much like a traditional hackathon, teams split up, pulled all nighters, and worked to make the company more nimble, and less costly.
Know when to pass the torch.
Disney announced that more Star Wars films will be coming soon (plus they get the rights to the Indiana Jones series), and George Lucas will serve as creative advisor on these projects. This is a significant departure from his previous roles of writer/ director / producer. He will still give input and guide the overall vision, but from a different vantage point than before.
Founders can't do everything forever, and sometimes stepping aside is simply the right thing to do for your business. Taking a business from 50 to 500 people is difficult (and fun), but requires different skills than founding a tech startup. Don’t be afraid to pass the torch as your company grows.