At Walt Disney Co.'s special shareholders meeting here Wednesday morning, the company said shareholders had approved creating an additional class of Disney common stock, Go.com, that will reflect the performance of Disney's Internet properties. Simultaneously, Infoseek shareholders meeting a few miles away in Menlo Park also approved the Disney acquisition and creation of the go.com stock. Go.com stock will trade under the symbol GO on the New York Stock Exchange beginning Thursday.
The stock incorporates Disney's recent purchase of Infoseek.com with other Disney Internet properties, including Disney.com, ESPN.com, and ABCNews.com. These properties now all fall under the heading of the "Go Network."
Infoseek has been combined into Disney's Buena Vista Internet Group but will continue to operate as an independent subsidiary of the Walt Disney Co.
Looking for broadband
During a question-and-answer period after the vote, Disney chairman and CEO Michael Eisner was quick to reassure anxious investors that Disney shareholders wouldn't be affected by the dramatic ups and downs characteristic of Internet stocks.
"We don't want to trash the Walt Disney Company in search of a dream that might not happen," he said, while pointing out that Disney's Internet investments so far are less than $500 million.
Eisner was also quick to point out that Disney's current strategy for the Internet space is geared more toward high bandwidth, broadband access which experts agree is still several years away from wide distribution.
"When you get to the broadband world, that's when Disney really steps forward," Eisner explained. "Until then, we have to be there [on the Internet], we have to be in people's minds."
Despite the milestone, shareholders reacted more strongly to the lack of available free parking spaces during the meeting and the company's failure to hand out free passes to the Disney theme parks. Eisner and Board of Directors vice chairman Sanford Litvack said they'd look into it.
It is not yet clear how the recent court decision granting search engine GoTo.com an injunction against Disney's use of its yellow and green 'Go Network' logo could affect the debut of the new stock. Disney has been given 60 days to remove all traces of the logo from its Internet, television and film properties.