Disney CEO Bob Iger, who has been the navigator of major business moves like the purchase of Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel and Fox’s entertainment businesses and the launch of Disney+ is stepping down immediately.
Iger made the surprise announcement Tuesday evening.
The Walt Disney Co. named as his replacement Bob Chapek, most recently chairman of Disney’s parks, experiences and products business.
Iger will remain executive chairman through the end of his contract on Dec. 31, 2021. Besides leading the board, Iger said he will spend more time on Disney’s creative endeavors, including the ESPN sports network, the newly acquired Fox studios and the Hulu and Disney Plus streaming services. He said he could not do that while running 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 said on a conference call with reporters and analysts.
Chapek said that while he has not led television networks or streaming services, his background in consumer-oriented businesses should help. Chapek and Iger both stressed that Disney would continue on the direction it had already been taking.
Chapek, 60, is only the seventh CEO in Disney history. Chapek was head of the parks, experiences and products division since it was created in 2018. He was previously head of parks and resorts and before that president of consumer products.
Iger’s appointment as CEO in 2005 had been accompanied by controversy and protest from dissident shareholders Roy E. Disney and Stanley Gold. But he has come to be seen as a golden-boy top executive, and even someone who could run for president.
Iger told Vogue in 2018 that he had started seriously exploring a run for president because he is “horrified at the state of politics in America today,” but the Fox deal stopped his plans. Oprah Winfrey told Vogue that she “really, really pushed him to run.”
Iger, 69, was the second-highest paid CEO in 2018, as calculated by The Associated Press and Equilar, an executive data firm. He earned $65.6 million.