Bob Iger steps down as Disney CEO with immediate effect

George Boatfield breaks down the unexpected news regarding the Disney empire.

George Boatfield
28th February 2020
Image Credit: IMDB
Following numerous successes throughout 2019, Disney has now been dealt a sudden blow as Bob Iger, CEO of the company since 2005, has stepped down from the position with immediate effect.

In the days since the announcement, Disney lost $25 billion in value (3.7%), perhaps indicative of a lack of confidence in the newly appointed CEO, Bob Chapek. The former Disney parks chairman joined Disney in 1993 and spent much of his time running the Disney Consumer Products division and as president of distribution for Walt Disney Studios.

Chapek’s background in the commercial side of Disney might well see more aggressive monetisation of the company’s goods and services, not least since the newly released Disney+ continues to undercut the cost of competing platforms like Netflix and NOW TV. However, in an interview with CNBC, Chapek insists that “in the beginning, it will be more of the same.”

This news follows numerous delays to Iger’s scheduled departure from the company, and as such came as a surprise to the industry. The initial delay from 2018 came down to the fact that he could oversee the purchase of 20th Century Fox and it’s integration within The Walt Disney Company. After the adjusted departure date, he was set to stay on as CEO through to summer 2021, but following this recent change, he will now remain until then as executive chairman only.

“What’s next in terms of my own priorities is making sure that the creative pipeline of the company [is] really rich.”

Bob Iger

In a statement, the company said Iger would direct its "creative endeavours" while ensuring "a smooth and successful transition". On why he chose to step down from the role now, Iger explained in an interview with CNBC that “what’s next in terms of my own priorities is making sure that the creative pipeline of the company [is] really rich.” “I want to spend more of my time on that.” This means he needed “to give up the day-to-day running of the company” “freeing [him] up to do what [he] think[s] is [their] next big priority.”

Iger became chief executive in 2005, and through that time saw the acquisition of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox most recently. During his time at the company, it’s market value increased five-fold, not least thanks to these acquisitions alongside the launch of Disney+ and refreshed amusement park offerings.

Disney has been doing rather well recently, not least due to the fact that 2019 saw the company crack the billion-dollar mark at the box office in many of their major releases; Avengers: Endgame even became the highest-grossing film of all time with a $2.8 billion haul. However, after the latest blip in the company’s value, it remains to be seen whether a swift recovery is around the corner.

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