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Bob Iger, who brought Marvel and Star Wars to Disney, steps down as CEO

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New era, new Bob

Bob Iger and Bob Chapek standing in front of the Millennium Falcon at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Outgoing Disney CEO Bob Iger (left) and his replacement, Bob Chapek.
Photo: The Walt Disney Co.

Bob Iger, longtime CEO of Disney, has stepped down from his role, the company announced Tuesday. Disney’s new chief executive is Bob Chapek, the former chairman of Disney’s parks, experiences, and products division. This change is effective immediately.

Iger will continue to serve as executive chairman of Disney through the end of 2021; his eventual departure had been announced in April 2019, though he was expected to stay in the position till the end of 2021. Iger has been the CEO of Disney since 2005, when he took over the position from Michael Eisner following a shakeup of Disney’s management by Roy E. Disney. Iger led Disney’s acquisitions of Marvel Entertainment and Lucasfilm, and most recently has made Disney a strong player in the streaming wars with the launch of Disney Plus.

“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,” said Chapek. “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.”

Chapek will be the seventh CEO in Disney’s history. He had spearheaded the vault strategy in Disney Home Entertainment. As Disney Parks chairman, he oversaw the opening of Shanghai Disneyland, the expansion of the Disney cruise line, and the unveiling of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

“I am enormously proud of all we’ve accomplished creatively, financially, and strategically,” said Iger in an investor call following the announcement. “I believe it is the right time to transition to a new CEO.”

Iger cited the closing of the 21st Century Fox acquisition and the launch of Disney Plus as reasons his departure as CEO was expedited. He explained that he wants to get everything right creatively, and thus will step back and give the day-to-day management of the company to Chapek, which will free up his schedule to focus on the “creative side.”

Chapek talked about staying ahead of competition as new technology and experiences continue to challenge the industry. He said that his consumer-focused career path would help him navigate the direct-to-consumer market.