Bob Iger Will Remain Disney CEO through 2026
In November 2022, The Walt Disney Company did the unthinkable in firing then-CEO Bob Chapek and replacing him with former CEO Bob Iger. At the time, Disney signed Iger for two years, a contract that would have ended next November.
We’ve since learned that the problems at Disney ran deeper than anything Iger could fix in that timeframe. So, Disney just extended Iger’s contract through 2026. Here’s what we know about the situation.
Iger Replaces Chapek
I don’t need to remind you about the failings under Chapek. We all lived through the trauma. Specifically, Chapek proved far too aggressive with theme park price increases. Ultimately, his inability to control costs with Disney’s streaming services undid him, though.
Since Iger’s return, he has addressed many of the problems that Disney faced in the pandemic’s aftermath, but it’s like course-correcting a cruise ship. The changes take time. Meanwhile, the countdown clock has advanced.
July 20th will mark eight full months since Iger’s Disney return. That’s one-third of Iger’s scheduled tenure with Disney. Well, it was.
On July 12th, 2023, Disney announced that Bob Iger will remain as CEO through December 31st, 2026. Disney has extended Iger’s contract by a little more than 25 months. Presuming that he serves as CEO that entire time, he is scheduled to retire five years to the day after he did it the first time on December 31st, 2021.
Why Did Disney Extend Iger?
Did you know that Disney’s Chief Financial Officer, Christine McCarthy, accepted family medical leave last month to take care of her husband? In the wake of that announcement, Disney’s Board of Directors faced an unpleasant proposition. If the members didn’t extend Iger, they must perform simultaneous searches for CFO and CEO. That’s less than ideal.
Also, let’s be honest that Disney isn’t going to entice any great CEO to join right now. Chapek and the pandemic left too big a mess. Iger’s one of the greatest modern corporate leaders. He’s the best option Disney had.
The choice came down to rushing another search, which is how you get Bob Chapek II, or keep an exceptional leader. That’s not a hard decision, especially not for smart people. And Disney’s Board is comprised of many corporate CEOs and founders. In fact, the current Chairman of the Board, Mark Parker, was Nike’s equivalent of Bob Iger from 2007-2020.
To a larger point, we shouldn’t forget that Iger selected many of the Board members when he held the title of Chairman, either. In short, there was only one logical conclusion to Disney’s current leadership situation. Iger required an extension.
What Does Iger’s Extension Mean for You?
You probably have a smile on your face right now, and I don’t blame you. We all learned to appreciate Iger more during his absence. Apparently, his leadership is all that kept Disney’s Parks division from aggressive price increases.
During Chapek’s brief tenure, the cost of a Disney visit increased dramatically. At one point, McCarthy happily announced that guests were spending over 40 percent more per visit in 2022 than 2019. In other words, YOU were paying 40 percent more for the same Disney vacation.
Since Iger returned, he and Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro have worked closely to appease upset fans. We’ve witnessed the return of annual pass sales and the Disney Dining Plan, the elimination of resort parking fees, and the addition of several discounts, including bounce-back offers.
Not all those enhancements impact DVC members (we got DVC parking for free anyway), but they represent something more significant. While Iger was away from Disney, he lamented Chapek’s tendency to raise prices. Now that Iger has come back as CEO, he is backing up his words with his actions.
Frankly, Disney fans needed that win. We should all be happy to know that we likely have Iger and D’Amaro calling the shots at the parks for the next three and a half years. At a minimum, that should keep park pricing in check. So, this is good news for all of us.