Jim Breyer Scores Big With Disney’s Marvel Acquisition

As the third largest direct shareholder in Marvel Entertainment, Breyer stands to make nearly $5 million once Disney’s acquisition of the superhero company closes.

Disney said this morning that it plans to pay $4 billion in cash and stock for Marvel. Marvel shareholders — Breyer has 165,700, according to regulatory filings — will get $30 a share plus around 3/4 of a Disney share, a 29 percent premium over Marvel’s closing price on Friday.

Breyer’s venture firm, Accel Partners, has no investment in Marvel. But Breyer said his own investment came about several years ago as part of a “prepared mind” strategy.

“I have been very interested in companies with strong, defensible intellectual property that can be leveraged across multiple distribution channels such as the internet, live action and animated film, and broadcast,” he wrote in an e-mail message.

“I was meeting with a variety of senior executives in the media and entertainment industries who I believed had extremely valuable and compelling intellectual content that could also be very valuable over time for web and internet distribution. The CEO [Ike Perlmutter] and I greatly enjoyed our strategic discussions and he invited me to invest and join the board.”

Breyer became the head of the board’s strategic planning committee, and Marvel is no longer just a comic book company. Its superheroes — Spider-Man, X-Men, Iron Man — also appear in movies and games, and news reports call the acquisition a coup for Disney.

According to Breyer, the process of checking out media and entertainment companies and investing in Marvel “was similar to the process that we proactively used when we helped form Walmart.com” — although the result has been quite different.

Accel and Wal-Mart spun off Walmart.com as a separate company in early 2000, before the dot-com bubble burst. The following year, Wal-Mart bought out Accel and took Walmart.com in-house. Breyer is also both a direct and indirect investor in Wal-Mart, according to regulatory filings, and sits on Wal-Mart’s board.