The Walt Disney Company Board of Directors announced today that Bob Chapek has been named Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company, effective immediately. Chapek most recently served as Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.
“Mr. Chapek will also benefit from the guidance of one of the world’s most esteemed and successful business leaders, Bob Iger”
“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,” Mr. Iger said. “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.”
Iger added: “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.”
“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,” Chapek said. “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 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.
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.
As Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, Chapek oversaw the Company’s largest business segment, with operations around the globe and more than 170,000 employees worldwide. The segment includes Disney’s iconic travel and leisure businesses, encompassing 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.
From 2011 to 2015, Mr. Chapek was President of the former Disney Consumer Products segment, where he drove the technology-led transformation of the Company’s consumer products, retail and publishing operations. Prior to that, he served as President of Distribution for The Walt Disney Studios and was responsible for overseeing the Studios’ overall content distribution strategy across multiple platforms including theatrical exhibition, home entertainment, pay TV, digital entertainment and new media. He also served as President of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, where he spearheaded the successful “vault strategy” for the Company’s iconic films and transformed the primary format of home entertainment from DVD to Blu-ray.
Iger says it was an "optimal time" for him to step down following Disney's acquisition of Fox's entertainment assets and the launch of Disney Plus streaming service in November.
Iger has been CEO of Disney since 2005. He’s pushed back his retirement several times in recent years, and Tuesday’s succession announcement came as a surprise.
On a call with investors shortly after the announcement, Iger addressed the timing of his announcement, which happened 22 months before he was expected to retire at the end of 2021. Iger said he decided to step down now because he wanted to focus on the creative side now that major projects like the Fox merger and launch of Disney+ were behind him. Iger said he would be able to help transition Chapek into the role while serving as executive chairman.
“With everything else falling into place, the time seemed right,” Iger said.