Wall Street was shocked to learn this week that Disney’s chief executive, Bob Iger, has stepped down from the company, effective immediately.
Iger, 69, had spent roughly fifteen years in the CEO position which has been turned over to Bob Chapek, who most recently was the chairman of Disney Parks. Iger intends to focus on Disney’s creative strategy through the remainder of his tenure and is now the executive chairman for the company through the year 2021.
Shares of Disney fell about 2.5% in after-hours trading on the news on Tuesday. While the announcement was a shock, Iger had pushed back his retirement several times in recent years. In an interview with CNBC’s Julia Boorstin, Iger said the CEO reporting structure is a way to ensure a smooth transition. “We’re not concerned at all about creating any confusion,” Iger said.
He added, “As we looked at the businesses, we felt we have a great set of assets, we have a great strategy,” Iger said. “What’s next? And what was next in terms of my own priorities is making sure that the creative pipeline of the company was really rich, that all of our creative engines were working extremely well, and I wanted to spend more and more of my time on that. The only way I was able to do that was to give up the day-to-day running of the company, to pass the torch on to Bob [Chapek].”
“With everything else falling into place, the time seemed right,” Iger said of his decision to step down now.
Twitter was quick to react to the news. One user, @DMC_Ryan tweeted, “The fact that Bob Iger is being replaced by the guy who heads up the theme parks gives me some comfort that Disneyland and the other parks won’t suffer in the new regime.”
@BrieisTea tweeted, “I love Bob Iger so this is sad, just make Brie Larson the new CEO of the Walt Disney Company.”
@Clayton_Sandell pointed out in a tweet, “Anyone who thinks today’s Disney CEO news is “sudden” hasn’t been paying attention. Bob Iger has had previous plans to retire. The Fox merger delayed his most recent plan to leave (in June 2019). Also, he’s going to be around for another 22 months…”
Disclaimer: We have no position in Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) and have not been compensated for this article.