Legendary Disney CEO Iger steps down; Chapek to replace him

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Marc Levin | Flickr

Amanda Salazar, Editor-in-Chief

Iger, 69, served as chief executive officer since 2005, after moving up to chief operating officer in 2000.

The news of Iger’s resignation came as a surprise to many. As an article from CNN Business said, it appeared to outsiders to be just a random Tuesday when he announced it — but it seems that the company’s board was aware that this was coming.

“2021 will be the time for me to finally step down,” Iger was quoted as saying at last year’s Disney investor conference in an article from NBC News.

Iger said that he and the board had been looking at Chapek to take over for a while now.

Iger said he has the utmost confidence in Chapek and looks forward to ‘working closely with him over the next 22 months as he assumes this new role,’” CNN reported.

Chapek, who had most recently served as the chairman of Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Products will still be working with Iger for the next few months, as the previous CEO plans to stay on as executive chairman until his contract expires on Dec. 31, 2021.

In this temporary role, Iger will get to focus more on the creative side of the company, something that he said he has been wanting to get more involved with but couldn’t as the CEO.

“I could not do that if I had to run the company on a day to day basis,” he was quoted as saying in the CNN article.

Now that he has more time and freedom as executive chairperson, he will get to tap into that side of Disney, but he will also be able to help collaborate with and guide his successor as Chapek adjusts to his new position.

As CEO, Iger supervised many new acquisitions for the company, theme parks and the formation and release of the company’s new streaming service, Disney+.

CNN referred to Iger as, “The man who may be the second most-important person in the history of Disney, behind only Walt himself.”

Under Iger, Disney acquired Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 21st Century FOX — which alone was a $52.4 billion deal. Because of this, Disney had a record $13 billion in revenue in 2019, according to NBC News.

In 2019, the company opened up Galaxy’s Edge, a park dedicated to the Star Wars franchise, at both Disneyland and Disney World.

All these acquisitions led to Iger’s biggest and most recent accomplishment: the creation and success of Disney Plus, which already has over 30 million subscribers.

The streaming service has the exclusive rights to show all Disney content, making it a big competition for Netflix and Hulu.

“With the successful launch of Disney’s direct-to-consumer businesses and the integration of Twenty-First Century Fox well underway, I believe this is the optimal time to transition to a new CEO,” Iger said in a statement.

While questions about what prompted Iger to step down have been going around, he said that it was just the right time for him to do so, and there wasn’t something that forced him to leave.

“I’ve been with the company for 45 years, and was in the CEO job for 15 of those years,” Iger was quoted as saying in the CNN article. “It’s been a fun run.”

Iger will be known as one of the most influential figures in Disney history and an important part of contemporary media.

Chapek noted this, as well.

“I am incredibly honored and humbled to assume the role of CEO of what I truly believe is the greatest company in the world,” Chapek said in a statement.

“Bob Iger has built Disney into the most admired and successful media and entertainment company, and I have been lucky to enjoy a front-row seat as a member of his leadership team.”