Updated Feb 25, 2020 - Economy

Bob Iger to step down as CEO of Disney

Bob Iger

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

The Walt Disney Company said Tuesday that it had named longtime Disney executive Bob Chapek as CEO Bob Iger's successor, effectively immediately. Iger will remain executive chairman of the company through 2021.

Why it matters: Iger is credited with having successfully turned around Disney’s animation and studio businesses and with the strategic acquisition of Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox. Most recently, he was the person behind Disney's successful launch of its Netflix rival Disney+.

  • Iger's plan to launch Disney+ has largely been a success, with the company revealing on its last earnings call that the streamer had gained over 28 million paid subscribers in less than a quarter.

Iger is credited with having also launched Disney's largest theme park in Shanghai, further expanding Disney’s global footprint. He worked hard to build up Disney's business in China, where the country now gets a sizable chunk of its box office revenues.

  • Iger had been planning a succession plan for some time and was supposed to retire at the end of 2021, but the news still came as a shock to many in the media industry. The market was also clearly taken by surprise, with Disney's stock down nearly 5% after the news.

Be smart: Chapek has spent the majority of his career at Disney focused on its largest revenue stream: parks and resorts. His experience leading Disney's parks division could be a signal that that's where Disney will continue to heavily invest.

  • On a call with investors, Iger said that staying on as executive chairman would allow him to work closely with Chapek as he transitioned into the new role overseeing Disney's TV, studios and streaming businesses.

Worth noting: Earlier Tuesday, Hulu CMO Kelly Campbell was named president of Hulu, which is mostly owned by Disney. Her predecessor Randy Freer exited the company last month amid further leadership consolidation by Disney.

Go deeper