Who Is The Owner Of Disney? And How Does It Make Money?

The most successful companies in the world were not established overnight. There is always a very long journey for the founders and management of the companies.

Similarly, Walt Disney is a name everyone knows as one of the business icons in the world. However, few know about the struggles of Walt Disney, who started the business as a family-owned company.

Many people wonder about the history of Walt Disney and how the family-owned company became the leading company venturing into several industries.

In today’s article, we will talk about Walt Disney. We will discuss the owners of Disney and everything about the company’s business model.

So let’s get into it.

Key Takeaways

  • Walt Disney Co. is a global entertainment company based in America founded in 1923.
  • The diversified company is venturing into resorts, parks, media networks, films and movies, cruise lines, and consumer products & services.
  • 35% of the revenues of the company come from Media Networks.
  • The family of Walt Disney has less than 3% shares in the company.
  • The top three institutional shareholders of Walt Disney Co. are The Vanguard Group, Inc., BlackRock Fund Advisor, and SsgA Funds Management, Inc.

What Is Disney?

The Walt Disney Company, renowned as Disney, is an America-based company having headquarters in Burbank, California.

It was originally founded as the Disney Brothers Studio on October 16th, 1923. The head office of the company is located in Walt Disney Studios Complex.

The names behind the Disney Brothers Studio are Walt Disney and Roy O. Disney. The company also operated as the Walt Disney Studio and Walt Disney Productions.

The company adopted the name Walt Disney Company in 1986. Currently, Walt Disney is venturing into the resorts business, theme parks, broadcast television networks, and running a cruise airline.

Besides, there are other related consumer products and services of the company.

History Of Walt Disney

Let’s have a look at the history of Walt Disney.

The company, established as Disney Brothers Studio, continued operations under the same name from 1923 to 1926.

It kept operating as Walt Disney Studio from 1926 to 1929. The company continued its operations from 1929 to 1986.

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The year was 1923 when Walt Disney and his friend Ub Iwerks made a short film named Alice’s Wonderland in Laugh-O-Gram Studio in Kansas City.

However, the studio went bankrupt in the same year and was bought by Margaret J. Winkler, a New York-based film distributor.

Soon after the purchase, Alices’ Wonderland became a hit, and Walt Disney was signed to create six Alice Comedies series.

Walt was struggling alone, and his brother Roy O. Disney was suffering from tuberculosis in Hollywood.

Therefore, Walt Disney moved to Hollywood and co-founded Disney Brother Studio with his brother. He also convinced Ub Iwerks’ family to move to Hollywood.

The year was 1926 when Disney Studio on Hyperion Street got completed, and they changed the company’s name to Walt Disney Studio.

The year was 1927 when Walt Disney was offered another series of films under Universal Pictures after producing Alice films for four years.


The year was 1928 when Walt wanted to charge higher fees for films, but Mintz wanted a reduced price.

However, Mintz threatened Walt Disney to make films without him as Universal had Intellectual property rights to Oswald.

Four primary animators of Walt Disney joined hands with Mintz to start a new studio. Only Iwerks remained with Walt Disney Studio.

Even though Mintz signed top animators of Walt Disney Studio, Oswald faced a loss. Therefore, Walt and Iwerks would come forward to replace Mortimer Mouse in the film.

However, Walt changed the mouse’s name to Mickey Mouse on his wife’s recommendation. Mickey Mouse was such a hit that it is the current Mascot of the company.

The journey of Walt Disney Studio that started after the popularity of Mickey Mouse was fast-paced, and the animators never looked back.

In 1934, the first-ever feature-length film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, was made by Walt Disney.


In 1936, the company signed a distribution contract with RKO Radio Pictures on March 2nd, 1936. In December 1937, Snow White was released and became the highest-grossing film of all time 1937.

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The years 1950 to 1967 had many live-action films, Disneyland, and television work for the company. The films include Cinderella, Treasure Island, The Story of Robin Hood, His Merry Men, etc.

Walt was also working on building an amusement park called Mickey Mouse Park. He started a privately-owned enterprise, Walt Disney Enterprise, to fund amusement parks.

The construction was started in 1954 and opened for the first time on July 17th, 1955, with 18 rides and attractions.

However, Walt Disney died in 1966, which was a big setback for the family and company. Soon after the death of Walt Disney, his movie The Jungle Book became the most successful film for years to come.


Things continued with ups and downs as the animation film industry suffered for several years. In 1983, the son-in-law of Walt Disney became CEO of the company.

Raymond Watson was selected as chairman of the company. In 1986, its first R-Rated film of Disney was released. The company also produced the PG-13-rated film Adventures in Babysitting.


Bob Iger was selected as CEO of Disney after Eisner retired in September 2004. Disney acquired Pixar in January 2006.

In 2012, Disney acquired UTV Software Communications and expanded its business in India and Asia.

In March 2019, the company acquired 21st Century Fox’s assets. The company also purchased stocks in Hulu, Star India, and Fox Networks Group.

Bob Chapek became CEO of Disney as Iger stepped down in 2020. The company had to face several losses due to the pandemic, which were so big that 2/3 of the company was owned by large financial institutions by September 2020.

The years between 2019-2021 were not good for the company as lay-offs, shutdowns of several business units, and losses had to be suffered.

Iger joined back as CEO of the company in November 2022 by replacing Chapek. Iger has been given the mandate of two years to strategize the company’s growth.

Who Is The Owner Of Disney?

Three primary shareholders own the Walt Disney Company:

  1. Heirs of Roy O. Disney and Walter Disney
  2. Berkshire Hathaway
  3. Cadbury
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Other top owners of Walt Disney Co. are as follows:

  • The Vanguard Group, Inc. holds a 7.49% stake in the company
  • BlackRock Fund Advisor holds a 4.09% stake in the company
  • SsgA Funds Management, Inc., holds a 3.84% stake in the company
  • State Farm Investment Management holds a 1.87% stake in the company
  • Geode Capital Management LLC holds a 1.71% stake in the company
  • T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. holds a 1.32% stake in the company

How Does Walt Disney Make Money?

Let’s have a look at how Walt Disney Co. makes money. Here are the main segments into which the Walt Disney Co. is venturing and generating revenues:

Media Networks

Walt Disney Co. has stakes in different broadcast networks working as a part of The Disney Media Network. The prominent names include National Geographic, FX, and ESPN. Other major stakes in National Geographic Magazine and A&E Network.

The annual revenues of $6 billion are collected from Media Networks, which make up around 35% of the company’s total revenues.


Disney’s Studio Entertainment brings around 15% of the total revenues of Walt Disney Co. It includes Walt Disney Pictures, UTV Banners, Touchstone, Pixar, Marvel, etc.

Parks and Resorts

The parks and resort business of Walt Disney Co. includes resorts, cruise lines, and theme parks. The revenues in these segments come from food; hotel stays, ticket sales, property rentals, etc.


Who are the competitors of Walt Disney?

The main competitors of Walt Disney Co. include Sony Group Corp, Comcast Corp, Paramount Global, AT&T Inc., Netflix Inc., Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc., etc.

Is Disney still a family-owned business?

Walt Disney Co is a public company; the family of founders had 20% shares in the company in 1960. However, in 2020, the family of Walt and Roy O. Disney had less than 3% shares of the company.

How much of Disney is owned by China?

The resort owned by Disney has 57% stakes in the Shanghai Shendi Group of the Chinese government. Walt Disney Company owns the rest, 43% stakes.