In a move that most did not see coming, The Walt Disney Company has announced that Bob Iger, Disney’s long-standing CEO who helped steer the company’s absorption of companies and franchises such as Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel and Fox Entertainment, will be stepping down from his position immediately. He will be replaced by Bob Chapek, who recently held the position of chairman of Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Products Business.
Though he is stepping down as Chief Executive, Iger will remain in the company as Executive Chairman till the end of his contract on 31 December 2021. In the position, Iger said that he will be spending more time on Disney’s creative endeavours, including the ESPN sports network, Hulu, Disney+, and their newly acquired Fox studios.
According to Iger, these were all tasks he could not concentrate on while having to run Disney on a day-to-day basis.
“It was not accelerated for any particular reason other than I felt the need was now to make this change,” Iger explained on a conference call with reporters and analysts.
“I felt with the asset base in place, and with the strategy deployed, I felt that I should be spending as much time as possible on the creative side of the business. Getting everything right creatively would be my number one goal.”
Iger took on the mantle of Disney’s CEO on 15 March 2005, succeeding longtime CEO Michael Eisner as the company’s sixth CEO. In his first year, Iger had successfully acquired Pixar for a little over US$7 billion, which was only the start of Iger’s ongoing legacy in the company.
Chapek, Disney’s new CEO, will be overseeing the “global hub where Disney’s stories, characters, and franchises come to life”.
Chapek has also told analyst Michael Nathanson in the conference call that spending almost three decades in the company means that he knows it “extremely well”, with his experience in consumer products giving him the edge in direct-to-consumer entertainment/
In an interview with CNBC, Chapek shared that he envisions his role as CEO of Disney to be continuing to work on the pillars lefts by Iger, “but at the same time look around the corner at what’s going on in the marketplace that would necessitate a fresh look at those things.”
“Right now the course that Bob has laid is one that we fully intend to follow and I think will pay dividends to shareholders for years to come,” Chapek said.