Entertainment

A look at Bob Iger's legacy at Disney as he steps down as CEO

Key Points
  • Bob Iger is stepping down as CEO of the Walt Disney Company.
  • Bob Chapek, the company's head of parks, experiences and products, would be his successor. Iger will assume the role of executive chairman through Dec. 31, 2021.
  • In the last 15 years, Iger has facilitated one of the most remarkable revitalizations of any iconic American brand.
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Disney CEO Bob Iger steps down, and it's effective immediately

Bob Iger is stepping down as CEO.

The media mogul, who has been at the helm of Disney since 2005 and extended his contract with the company twice during his tenure, said Tuesday that he is leaving his post ahead of his contract expiring in 2021.

Disney announced that Bob Chapek, the company's head of parks, experiences and products, would be his successor. Iger will assume the role of executive chairman through Dec. 31, 2021.

"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 Tuesday. "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."

Shares of the company fell less than 2% in aftermarket trading Tuesday.

In the last 15 years, Iger has facilitated one of the most remarkable revitalizations of any iconic American brand. He built up the company through a series of four acquisitions that seeded its parks, consumer products and theaterical releases.

In the year that Iger was named CEO, Disney's net income was $2.5 billion. By last year, net profits jumped more than 300% to $10.4 billion. Similarly, Disney stock has skyrocketed. Shares of Disney are up more than 400% from $25 per share in 2005 to nearly $128 at the close on Tuesday.

Iger came to Disney by way of ABC. He began his tenure at ABC in 1974. Over the course of more than two decades, he held positions as the head of ABC Entertainment and president of ABC Network Television Group. As chairman of the ABC Group, Iger oversaw the broadcast television network and station group, cable television properties, the radio and publishing business and helped guide the merger between Capital Cities/ABC and Disney, which was the largest entertainment industry deal ever at the time it was announced in 1995.  

In 1996, Iger official joined the Walt Disney Co.'s senior management team as chairman of the Disney-owned ABC Group and in 1999 was also named president of Walt Disney International.

From 2000 to 2005, he served as president and chief operating officer of Disney. He would become CEO in late 2005.

Within his first year as CEO, Iger announced that Disney would acquire Pixar Animation Studios for $7.4 billion. Since Pixar's first film "Toy Story" debuted in 1995, it has earned more than $14 billion at the global box office. Around $11 billion of that has come after Disney's acquisition.

In 2009, Iger closed on a deal to purchase Marvel for around $4 billion. Since releasing its first Disney-produced Marvel movie in 2012, the company has earned more than $18.2 billion at the global box office.

Then, there was the $4.05 billion Lucasfilm acquisition in October 2012. Since Disney released its first Star Wars movie in 2015, the franchise has made more than $5.9 billion at the global box office.

Then last March, Disney closed on its biggest acquisition yet: a $71 billion deal for 20th Century Fox.

Franchises and movies from those four acquisitions helped Disney gross more than $10 billion at the global box office in 2019, representing nearly 40% of the total U.S. box office haul for the year.

Iger has also pushed for the launch of Disney+, a streaming service filled with original movies and television shows as well as Disney's slate of classic animated and live-action content. The service already has more than 28 million subscribers as of February, the company said.

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Timing 'surprising' says senior analyst on Bob Iger stepping down