Bob Chapek has replaced Bob Iger as CEO of The Walt Disney Company, effective immediately. Disney’s shares are down nearly 5% today. Bob Iger is now the Executive Chairman and will stay on until the end of his contract on December 31, 2021.
Iger had this to say about the change:
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 to transition to a new CEO. 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 business and operations, while I continue to focus on the Company’s creative endeavors.
Bob will be the seventh CEO in Disney’s nearly 100-year history, and he has proven himself exceptionally qualified to lead the Company into its next century. Throughout his career, Bob has led with integrity and conviction, always respecting Disney’s rich legacy while at the same time taking smart, innovative risks for the future. His success over the past 27 years reflects his visionary leadership and the strong business growth and stellar results he has consistently achieved in his roles at Parks, Consumer Products and the Studio. Under Bob’s leadership as CEO, our portfolio of great businesses and our amazing and talented people will continue to serve the Company and its shareholders well for years to come.
Bob Chapek has also commented:
I am incredibly honored and humbled to assume the role of CEO of what I truly believe is the greatest company in the world, and to lead our exceptionally talented and dedicated cast members and employees.
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 his leadership team. I share his commitment to creative excellence, technological innovation and international expansion, and I will continue to embrace these same strategic pillars going forward. Everything we have achieved thus far serves as a solid foundation for further creative storytelling, bold innovation and thoughtful risk-taking.
Susan Arnold, independent Lead Director of the Disney Board, said, “The Board has been actively engaged in succession planning for the past several years, and after consideration of internal and external candidates, we unanimously elected Bob Chapek as the next CEO of The Walt Disney Company. Mr. Chapek has shown outstanding leadership and a proven ability to deliver strong results across a wide array of businesses, and his tremendous understanding of the breadth and depth of the Company and appreciation for the special connection between Disney and its consumers makes him the perfect choice as the next CEO.
“Mr. Chapek will also benefit from the guidance of one of the world’s most esteemed and successful business leaders, Bob Iger,” Ms. Arnold continued. “Over the past 15-plus years as CEO, Mr. Iger has transformed The Walt Disney Company, building on the Company’s history of great storytelling with the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Twenty-First Century Fox and increasing the Company’s market capitalization fivefold. Disney has reached unparalleled financial and creative heights thanks to Mr. Iger’s strong leadership and clear strategic vision. We believe Mr. Chapek’s leadership and commitment to this strategy will ensure that the Company continues to create significant value for our shareholders in the years ahead.”
In Mr. Chapek’s new role as CEO, he will directly oversee all of the Company’s business segments and corporate functions. Mr. Chapek will report to the Executive Chairman, Mr. Iger, and the Board of Directors. He will be appointed to the Board at a later date. A new head of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products will be named at a future time.
Mr. Chapek served as Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products since the segment’s creation in 2018, and prior to that was Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts since 2015.
Bob Chapek is Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company, one of the world’s largest media and entertainment companies and home to some of the most respected and beloved brands around the globe, including Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, ESPN and National Geographic.
Mr. Chapek assumed the role of CEO on February 25, 2020 and reports to the Company’s Executive Chairman, Robert A. Iger, and the Board of Directors.
Mr. Chapek’s nearly three decades at Disney have been marked by growth and transformation. A visionary leader, he has championed using creativity and cutting-edge technology to drive expansion and improve the guest and consumer experience, developed and successfully implemented groundbreaking business models, and identified new revenue streams to achieve business objectives and sustain long-term growth.
Before becoming the 7th CEO in Disney’s nearly 100-year history, Mr. Chapek served as Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products since the segment’s creation in 2018, and prior to that he was Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts since 2015. The Parks, Experiences and Products segment includes Disney’s iconic travel and leisure businesses, which include six resort destinations in the United States, Europe and Asia; a top-rated cruise line; a popular vacation ownership program; and an award-winning guided family adventure business. Disney’s global consumer products operations include the world’s leading licensing business across toys, apparel, home goods, digital games and apps; the world’s largest children’s print publisher; Disney store locations around the world; and the shopDisney e-commerce platform.
During his tenure, Disney Parks saw the largest investment and expansion in its sixty-year history, including the successful opening of Shanghai Disney Resort; nearly doubling the Disney Cruise Line fleet; introducing the most technologically advanced and immersive lands in the parks’ history, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort; the growth of Marvel-inspired attractions across the globe; and one of the most ambitious development projects at Disneyland Paris since the park first opened.
Mr. Chapek’s guest-centric approach focuses on ensuring that every aspect of an experience is uniquely Disney and exceeds guest expectations. At Disney Parks, he implemented innovative strategies to improve the guest experience by balancing demand at the parks, integrating new franchises at locations around the world, and introducing beloved and iconic experiences to new generations of Disney fans. As head of Disney Consumer Products he led a period of transformation in the worlds of play, storytelling, and learning.
Mr. Chapek also served as president of Distribution for The Walt Disney Studios, where he managed the Company’s film content distribution strategy across multiple platforms, and later as president of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, where he led the organization to record-setting performances and played a key role in the commercialization of the Studio’s film business.
Throughout, Mr. Chapek has made enhancing the employee experience a top priority, and he’s driven initiatives and programs related to education, healthcare, childcare, diversity and inclusion, veteran and active duty military appreciation, and workforce development. Mr. Chapek has also developed a close relationship with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, where he currently serves as a Board Member and helps the organization leverage the power of Disney to make a difference in the lives of children with critical illnesses and their families.
Prior to joining the company, Mr. Chapek worked in brand management at H.J. Heinz Company, and in advertising at J. Walter Thompson. He has a degree in microbiology from Indiana University Bloomington, and received his MBA from Michigan State University.
Mr. Iger has built on Disney’s rich history of unforgettable storytelling with the acquisitions of Pixar (2006), Marvel (2009), Lucasfilm (2012) and 21st Century Fox (2019), as well as the landmark 2016 opening of Disney’s first theme park and resort in Mainland China, Shanghai Disney Resort. Always one to embrace new technology, Mr. Iger has made Disney an industry leader through its creative content offerings across new and multiple platforms, most recently leveraging cutting-edge direct-to-consumer technology to successfully launch the Disney+ streaming service on November 12, 2019 and ESPN+ in 2018.
Disney’s exceptional entertainment experiences, widely diverse content, and unique skill in managing businesses in an integrated manner have led to strong results. During Mr. Iger’s tenure, The Walt Disney Company has been recognized as one of the “Most Reputable Companies” in both America and the world by Forbes magazine (2006-2019); one of the “Best Employers” in both America and the world by Forbes magazine (2019 and 2018, respectively); one of the “World’s Most Admired Companies” by Fortune magazine (2009-2019); one of the “World’s Most Respected Companies” by Barron’s (2009-2017); one of the “Best Places to Launch a Career” by BusinessWeek magazine (2006-2010); and as “Company of the Year” by Yahoo Finance (2013).
Prior to his current role, Mr. Iger served as President and Chief Executive Officer beginning October 2005 and President and Chief Operating Officer from 2000-2005. Mr. Iger officially joined the Disney senior management team in 1996 as Chairman of the Disney-owned ABC Group and in 1999 was given the additional responsibility of President, Walt Disney International. In that role, Mr. Iger expanded and coordinated Disney’s presence outside of the United States, establishing the blueprint for the Company’s international growth today. As Chairman of the ABC Group, Mr. Iger oversaw the broadcast television network and station group, cable television properties, and radio and publishing businesses and also guided the complex merger between Capital Cities/ABC, Inc. and The Walt Disney Company. During Mr. Iger’s years with ABC, he obtained hands-on experience in every aspect of the television business—including news, sports, and entertainment—as well as in program acquisition, rights negotiations, and business affairs. He began his career at ABC in 1974.
Mr. Iger has been named one of the “World’s Most Powerful People” by Forbes magazine (2018); one of Fortune magazine’s “25 Most Powerful People in Business” (2006, 2007); one of the “Top Gun CEOs” by Forbes magazine (2009); one of the “Best CEOs” by Institutional Investor magazine (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011); MarketWatch CEO of the Year (2006); and “CEO of the Year” by Chief Executive (2014).
Mr. Iger serves on the boards of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and Bloomberg Philanthropies. In 2012, Mr. Iger became a member of the Academy of Arts & Sciences, one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies, which recognizes some of the world’s most accomplished scholars, scientists, writers, artists, and civic, corporate, and philanthropic leaders.
Mr. Iger is a graduate of Ithaca College.