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Phil Knight’s land grab

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006


I’m shocked that your story regarding Phil Knight’s takeover of Will Vinton Studios [THE WONDERLAND OF LAIKA, July] would summarize nearly 30 years of work on the part of Will Vinton and his colleges with such platitude. Vinton built a company that led the industry in its innovative approach to animation and storytelling, a company that brought Hollywood’s attention to Portland. Phil Knight’s effort has been little more than a land grab, taking as much as he can as quickly as he can in the hopes that people will look at his expensive new campus and his impressive company masthead and forget about the fact that he pulled the rug out from under the people who actually built the reputation on which his “studio” now stands.

I’m also disappointed your article didn’t mention that Knight’s attention was drawn to animation after his son, Travis, who by all accounts was floating through life without purpose or direction, was given a job by Will Vinton immediately after Knight’s initial cash investment in the company. I can’t say I’m at all surprised by the fact that Travis “is transitioning into more of a management role and holds a seat on the studio’s board of directors.”

Call me crazy, but it looks like Knight, with his $21 billion and all the lawyers that he can employ, decided to buy his son an animation studio. Too bad for Vinton he decided to take over the one closest to home.


Henry Pibb
Freelance writer, Los Angeles

 

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Power Play

January-Powerbook 2015
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There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

In this issue, we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not just about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda


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