Earlier today The Walt Disney Company made the shocking announcement that effective immediately Bob Iger was no longer the CEO of the company. The company also announced that Bob Chapek, former chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, will take on the role moving forward. Iger's departure has been in the cards for some time since his current contract with Disney is set to end at the conclusion of 2021 and he had been adamant that he would depart once it was over. The sudden announcement took many by surprise and had some wondering about the timing and Iger's reasoning. Luckily Iger is an open book and has revealed why now was the right time.
"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 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."
Though Iger's statement about the transition makes sense, the timing is still something many have found suspect. Iger addressed the timing during an investor relations call this afternoon after the announcement was made, discussing how he and Chapek will work together as Iger will remain with the company as Executive Chairman.
"It was not accelerated for any particular reason other than we felt the need was now to make this change," Iger said. "We've been engaged as a board in a really comprehensive and very serious succession process and we identified Bob actually quite some time ago as a likely successor to mine and with everything else falling in place the time seemed right. This gives him the opportunity also to work with me over the next number of months to create the smoothest possible transition so that when I leave he will be familiar with all elements of the company, not just those that he's already managed, but those that he will now begin to manage in this new role."
Considering the tremendous box office success of Disney in 2019. According to The AP, the company took up "38% of all domestic movie going" and brought in $13 billion in worldwide box office, so it's not too outlandish to consider last year a "victory lap" for Iger who also published his memoir, aptly titled "The Ride of a Lifetime." In retrospect, the end of Iger's career as CEO was coming no matter what, but the suddenness will still ring as a surprise until his final day with the company.