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Bob Iger steps down as Disney CEO, and a new Bob stepped up

Bob Iger will step down from his position as CEO of Disney immediately, the company announced Tuesday, capping off 15 years of leading the growth of the company into an entertainment behemoth behind the world’s most important pieces of pop culture.

He’ll be replaced by Bob Chapek, who was previously chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products. The changes in the company’s executive structure are effective immediately. 

A Tuesday press release says Iger, who has been CEO since 2005, will become executive chairman and direct Disney’s creative endeavors through next year. 

Disney CEO Bob Iger
Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger Image used with permission by copyright holder

“With the successful launch of Disney’s direct-to-consumer businesses and the integration of [21st] Century Fox well underway, I believe this is the optimal time to transition to a new CEO,” Iger said in the press release. “I have the utmost confidence in Bob [Chapek] 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.”

While Iger was CEO of Disney, the company acquired Lucasfilm, Pixar, Marvel, and Fox, and debuted the successful Disney+ streaming service. Iger told CNBC in October that the company would focus on its streaming service going into the future as the streaming wars heat up.

Iger’s contract with Disney was supposed to be up in 2018, but the company decided in 2017 to extend Iger’s contract until through 2021. 

During a conference call on Tuesday, Iger said his reasoning for stepping down before his contract is up was because of his desire to prioritize the creative side of the company.

“Getting everything right creatively would be my No. 1 goal, and I could not do that by running the company on a day-to-day basis,” Iger said in the call.

Chapek will step in as Disney’s seventh CEO. He has been with Disney for 27 years, handling Disney’s theme parks and resorts in his most recent position. Chapek also served as the president of home entertainment and created Disney’s vault program.

“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,” Chapek said in the announcement. “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.”

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