Feb 26, 2020 - Economy & Business

Bob Iger stuns media world with sudden departure as Disney CEO

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

In a move that shocked the media industry, Bob Iger said Tuesday he would step down from his role as CEO of the Walt Disney Company after leading the entertainment giant to unprecedented success during his 15-year run in the job.

Why it matters: Iger is credited with having successfully led Disney through a series of risky but highly successful acquisitions that not only solidified the company's entertainment dominance, but also ultimately reshaped the entire media landscape.

Expand chart
Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The big picture: Iger successfully turned around Disney’s animation and studio businesses — and led it through the strategic acquisition of Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox.

  • Most recently, he was the person behind its foray into the streaming era through the creation of the company's Netflix rival, Disney+.
  • He also launched Disney's largest theme park in Shanghai, further expanding the company's global footprint. He worked to build up its business in China, where the country now gets a sizable chunk of its box office revenues.

Iger, originally a weatherman turned ABC sports producer, also leaves a lasting sports legacy, having led ESPN through the cord-cutting era.

  • He is responsible for bringing ESPN to streaming, launching ESPN+ in April 2018. 
  • Today, it boasts more than 7 million subscribers, a feat for any subscription service, let alone one that focuses solely on sports. 

Be smart: Iger touched nearly every part of Disney over his tenure, and now says he's handing over the reins to an unexpected successor, naming longtime parks and resorts executive Bob Chapek as the next chief executive, effective immediately.

  • Chapek was hardly considered a shoo-in for the role. Kevin Mayer, who runs Disney's streaming business, was considered to be a logical successor to Iger, given the current media landscape.

Yes, but: Iger isn't leaving the entertainment giant just yet, staying on as executive chairman through 2021. He said he would use that time to lead Disney's "creative endeavors" while helping Chapek transition into his former role.

  • In a call with investors, Iger said that the news only came as a shock to outsiders — and that internally, these plans had been in the works for some time.

The bottom line: The long transition means that Disney isn't planning a major business shakeup anytime soon, as Iger had been clear that he was working on a succession plan for some time and was supposed to retire at the end of 2021,

  • But Wall Street was still shaken by the news, bringing Disney's stock down nearly 5% after the announcement.

Go deeper

Disneyland and Disney World to close due to coronavirus outbreak

Disneytown in Shanghai on March 10. Photo: Hector Retama/AFP via Getty Images

California's Disneyland and Florida's Disney World announced they will close this weekend and through the rest of the month, as the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the U.S.

Why it matters: There are currently 198 positive COVID-19 cases in California as of Thursday and four reported deaths. There are 35 coronavirus cases in Florida and two deaths reported as of Thursday. The heaviest concentrations of the virus in the U.S. are in California, Washington and New York.

Go deeperArrowMar 12, 2020 - Health

Disney and Salesforce departures highlight intensifying CEO shuffle

Bob Iger. Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic

A wave of CEO departures was announced Tuesday, as the chief executives of Mastercard, Salesforce, Thomson Reuters and Disney all had notice of their impending departures made official.

The big picture: The incredibly high-profile turnover announcements are part of what has become an emergent trend at the top of U.S. businesses over the past year.

Movie industry braces for major hit due to coronavirus

Box office at Regal South Beach. Photo: Jeff Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images.

The film industry is on pace to lose billions of dollars due to the deadly coronavirus outbreak around the world, according to analysts.

Why it matters: In the U.S., the largest box office in the world, consumers who are spooked by the virus have little incentive to leave their houses to see a movie if they can stream something at home. In China, the second-largest global box office, most theaters have been temporarily closed.