Silvia Elizabeth Pangaro / Shutterstock.com
Robert Iger stepped down as chief executive of Walt Disney Co. in a surprise announcement on Tuesday. Disney named chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Bob Chapek as the new CEO effective immediately. Iger has previously announced plans to retire only to delay his exit date.
Iger will remain with the company in the role of executive chairman and oversee its creative endeavors, the company said, until the end of his contract on December 31, 2021. Chapek will report to Disney’s board and Iger.
“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. “I have the utmost confidence in Bob and look forward to working working closely with him over the next 22 months as he assumes this new role and delves deeper into Disney’s multifaceted global businesses and operations, while I continue to focus on the Company’s creative endeavors.”
Iger, who has led Disney for almost 15 years, transformed the company into an entertainment powerhouse with several multi-billion dollar deals. During his tenure, Iger led the acquisition of Pixar, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, and Disney’s largest deal with its $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets in 2018. One of Iger’s final projects was also one of the most significant for the future of the company - the successful launch late last year of its Disney+ streaming service in a move to position Disney in the direct-to-consumer space, and compete with companies such as Netflix.
Chapek, a 27-year veteran of the company, will become Disney’s seventh CEO in its nearly 100-year history. In his most recent role, he ran Disney’s largest business segment that includes theme parks and consumer products, where he oversaw the recent opening of Stars Wars attractions at Disneyland and Walt Disney World and the opening of Disney’s theme park in Shanghai, its first in mainland China.
“I am incredibly honored and humbled to assume to 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 the leadership team.”