As reported by Deadline, Bob Iger has stepped down as Disney’s Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately, with Disney Parks chairman Bob Chapek (who has been at the company since 1993 and is also named Bob) stepping in as his replacement. Iger will stay on as the company’s Executive Chairman and will “direct the company’s creative endeavors” while “continuing to lead the board” until his current contract runs out on December 31, 2021. So things probably won’t change much at all until then, and even then they might not change much.
After all, Iger is the guy who turned Disney into the absolute monster that it is today, with him overseeing Disney’s purchase of Pixar in 2006, Marvel in 2009, Lucasfilm in 2012, and 21st Century Fox in 2019. He was also there for the launch of Disney+ and the introduction of Star Wars stuff to Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Unless Chapek—a.k.a. New Bob—does something ridiculous like buying Warner Bros. or selling off some of these existing money-making brands that Disney hungrily latched onto in the last 15 years, it seems like the company is simply too massive to really change in any meaningful way with any meaningful speed.
New Bob, meanwhile, is a somewhat controversial choice here for the people who have closely followed his Disney Parks career. He’s been blamed for rising costs at Disneyland and Disney World alongside some declines in quality, along with new rides that are more about putting a famous name on something—say, Guardians Of The Galaxy—than actually designing a thoughtful ride experience. But again, that might not really matter. All he has to do is not screw things up really bad, and he can just coast on the success of Iger’s Star Wars and Marvel deals.
Anyway, while it’s surely a coincidence, Iger’s decision to step down comes as Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has looked increasingly viable. Sanders has been a vocal critic of Iger and his run at Disney for years, questioning in 2018 why the now-former CEO is “being compensated more than $400 million (over a period of several years) while workers at Disneyland are homeless and relying on food stamps.” As Deadline reported, Iger snapped back in a Facebook post, telling Sanders about the thousands of new jobs at Disney he’s created in the last decade and asking if Sanders has contributed anything like that to the U.S. economy. We’re not saying the rise of Bernie Sanders and all this #EatTheRich talk is related to Iger’s departure, but it’s certainly a good time for him to step out of this very public role.