There is a common joke on various shows these days: an upset character says to another who has failed and failed at some task: “You had one work and you didn’t do it.
The Walt Disney Board of Directors said something similar when it asked Bob Iger to replace him as CEO of the media giant. In announcing Iger’s rehiring in a statement Sunday night, the board made it clear that Eiger’s most important task over the next two years is to find someone to permanently replace the legendary 71-year-old executive, one of the most famous in American capitalism. .
Having chosen a successor for the first time, despite Bob Chapek’s extensive experience at the company, Iger is expected to find a custodian this time around as well as solidify the final component of his remarkable legacy.
For starters, it’s worth taking a look at the successor to another legendary Apple executive.
At first, this decision puzzled some, but one cannot argue with the results achieved under Cook’s leadership over the past 11 years. The company’s valuation has skyrocketed from $300 billion (still about a third higher than Disney’s current market cap) to its current $2.4 trillion, 8 times as much.
Apple is the most valuable consumer company on the planet, and it continues to post record numbers quarter after quarter despite the pandemic, supply chain issues, and more. And while Jobs’ creation, the iPhone, was the mainstay of Apple’s huge success, Cook led the creation of new product lines such as the iPad and Apple Watch and fueled the massive expansion of subscription services that bring in about $80 billion a year. income.
It’s also worth noting that in 2014, Cook became the first CEO of a major American corporation to publicly come out as gay, and the company became a champion of diversity and inclusion. Cooke has also been a powerful corporate consumer privacy advocate, although cynics will point out that the strong position also served as the main marketing difference between Apple products and its ad-supported competitors in many ways.
So who will be Bob Iger’s Tim Cook? It won’t be easy, as evidenced by the problems that brought down the seemingly well-qualified and highly experienced Čapek. What makes it particularly difficult is that Disney is so much more than just a media company.
During his first 15-year reign, Iger acquired Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars, each at a cost of several billion dollars, which have since paid back their investments many times over and are critical parts of the Disney+ streaming service.
The company already had the ABC broadcast network and many owned and operated local stations, the Freeform and Disney Kids cable network, and the ESPN sports franchise, the highest-grossing cable network in decades.
A year before the pandemic turned the theatrical and exhibition business on its head, Disney set an all-time box office record with blockbuster after blockbuster, including the permanent Avengers: Endgame, as well as Star Wars: Skywalker. Sunrise, live action The Lion King, Toy Story 4, Captain Marvel, Aladdin, as well as Dumbo.
Most recently, Iger engineered a $71 billion acquisition of much of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, which brought a majority stake in streaming service Hulu and the FX network’s remarkable list of adult programming, among other assets.
Running everything that would be a lot of for all. But that’s only part of what the Disney CEO has to keep an eye on. The rest includes four streaming services, theme parks and resorts on several continents, cruise lines, various types of consumer travel, and a hugely profitable consumer products division.
The company has candidates to fill Iger’s seat, starting with Dana Walden, a respected film industry executive who became chairman of Disney General Entertainment Co. this summer. after Chapek fired his longtime colleague Peter Rice in a 10-minute meeting.
Iger has signaled that he will reorganize the controversial Czapek corporate structure that gave Walden the job, but whatever Iger comes up with will likely give Walden even more power, especially to green-light new projects. How this all plays out is worth keeping an eye on for those who follow Burbank closely and try to guess who might have inside information about who will be Eiger’s successor.
New York Times
New York Times
It’s worth noting that the Times also cites anonymous sources saying that neither Walden nor D’Amaro are “quite ready”. D’Amaro has worked at various Disney parks and resorts since 1998 before taking the division’s top job, but his background suggests no experience in managing film studios, broadcast, cable or streaming networks, working with high-end talent, or acquiring.
According to Pack, Iger was seen, no doubt deliberately, having lunch this week with former successor hopeful Kevin Mayer, now a venture capitalist partner with fellow former successor hopeful Tom Staggs. Can anyone return to the game?
Of course, Hollywood chatter suggests Mayer’s possibility. He was part of the team that made many of these major Iger-led acquisitions, including BAM, the streaming service provider whose technology underpins all of the company’s online operations.
Mayer also oversaw the hugely successful launch of Disney+ three years ago, helped by pre-sales that saw him debut with 10 million customers. When it became clear he wouldn’t get the top job, Mayer left, soon taking a short-lived job at then-burgeoning social media giant TikTok when he ran into a political buzzsaw with former President Donald Trump.
But the truth is, no one has the experience that Iger has in all the operations that Disney manages.
And there are reasons to wonder if Iger will be more willing to let go of the reins a second time than the first time he selected and groomed Czapek as successor since 2018 but also publicly ran away from Mayer and Staggs. contemplated retirement at least four times in as many years.
And the choice of Čapek at the time made some sense. Although he lacked Eiger’s fine diplomatic skills, Čapek worked in the home entertainment industry and oversaw parks and resorts as well as consumer goods for five years. He clearly had experience in several key divisions of a growing and complex company.
Kreutz added, “We don’t necessarily think the lack of leadership is a Disney problem, and we think this change will ultimately make a true transition to Iger’s (next) successor even more difficult.”
Eager is hard to follow, even Eiger himself. As I wrote on Monday, for all its success, Disney is facing a long list of very serious problems. Yeager will have to decide, perhaps any of them, within the two-year window the board has given him. But then again, he just one job do, and he needs to do it quickly.