Disney recently put Bob Iger back in charge as CEO. Iger’s hand-picked successor, Bob Chapek, was suddenly replaced, and Iger was given an early goal: find a new CEO in the next two years.
Iger quickly turned his attention to the other part of his job description from the board: the immediate problems facing Disney‘s business, such as the company’s reorganization, cost structure, and how its streaming business will grow in the future. But that hasn’t stopped people from talking about who could take his place.
Executives in the media industry and people who follow the company are putting together a list of possible candidates that Iger and the board will likely look at when deciding who to train for the next role. Former Disney executives who were thought to be the future of the Mouse House before Chapek was chosen, a few rising stars from within the company, and a few “sleeper picks” who are either close to the creative community or already have ties to the company are all possible candidates.
Some people also think that Iger, whose return was welcomed by Wall Street and employees, might stay longer than the two years he was hired for. Here are a few of the people who could be the next leaders of Disney. CNBC reported that before calling Iger, Disney’s board thought about a few internal candidates to replace Chapek, but decided they were too new to handle all the pressures on the company.
Dana Walden was one of the candidates who were thought about, said people who knew about the situation but were not allowed to talk about it in public. She is in charge of making original entertainment and news shows for Disney’s streaming platforms, broadcast networks, and cable networks.
Walden is known to work closely with people who make content. In Iger’s first memo to employees after he was put back in charge, he mentioned Walden as one of the top lieutenants who would work with him on Disney’s new structure, which would “put more decision-making back in the hands of our creative teams and rationalize costs.”
Eric Schiffer, CEO and chairman of Patriarch Organization and Reputation Management Consultants, said that Disney is likely to choose a new leader who can work well with people. “What brought Chapek down was that he hurt relationships in Hollywood.”
Scarlett Johansson’s pay dispute was one of the big mistakes that Chapek made during his short time as CEO. Peter Rice, Walden’s boss, was fired in June after he got into a fight with Chapek. This is how Walden got her job. As with Rice, Walden joined Disney in 2019 when the company bought the assets of 21st Century Fox.
When she was given a promotion, Chapek said that Walden was “a dynamic, collaborative leader and cultural force who has turned our television business into a content powerhouse in just three years.” Chapek had the backing of Disney’s board at the time. Still, Walden hasn’t made many business decisions because she has spent most of her time on being creative. Meanwhile, Rice may be interested in returning to the company in some capacity and has remained in contact with Iger, people close to the matter said.
People say that Alan Bergman, who has worked for Disney for more than 25 years, is another possible candidate. He is the chairman of Disney’s studio content and led the way in putting Iger’s acquisitions into Disney’s overall content pipeline. Even Iger’s first memo talked about him.
Bergman also knows a lot of creative people in Hollywood. Disney depends on these connections, and he might be able to deal with talent and agents in a better way than what happened with Chapek and Johansson. Bergman, on the other hand, has spent most of his career working on studio content, which is different from most of the other top executives at Disney. People who know the company have said that Josh D’Amaro has also been mentioned as a possible candidate.
D’Amaro is in charge of Disney’s parks, experiences, and products. Before Chapek became CEO, he was in charge of the same things. He has been with the company for a long time. He started working there in 1998, and most of his jobs have been in resorts. This could be a good sign for him.
As does his charisma. D’Amaro is liked by most of his coworkers and cast members at the parks. He is also seen as a strong leader. Guests at Disney’s domestic parks have complained that prices are too high and that the system for reserving tickets isn’t very good, but few have pointed the finger at D’Amaro. Instead, Chapek has gotten the most criticism because guests and analysts think the former CEO set strict rules to make the parks and resorts make more money.
Still, D’Amaro lacks the creative background that Iger is often praised for. His resume is mostly about the business of resorts and parks. People who know about the situation say that Iger may also like Rebecca Campbell, who is in charge of Disney’s international content and operations.
The executive is also well-liked. He or she has worked in different parts of the company since 1997, when he or she started in local TV. She has also run the streaming business in the early days of Disney+. However, she was removed from the job and may not have enough business experience to make the tough decisions that the media business of the company needs to make. If Campbell or Walden became CEO, it would be the first time in Disney’s history that a woman was in charge.
One observer said that the president of Disney Studios, Sean Bailey, could be a dark horse candidate from inside the company. Bailey has kept in touch with Iger and is liked by people in the creative world.
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Possible Future Outcomes
Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs, both of whom used to work for Disney, were also up for the job before Iger chose Chapek in early 2020. Both left the company when they didn’t get the job. Many people saw Mayer as the most likely person to take over. His name is once again at the top of the list.
Tom Rogers, Executive Chairman of Engine Gaming and Media, said recently on CNBC, “This problem didn’t have to happen.” He went on to list the qualities someone in this position needs, such as understanding the media business, a streaming track record, the ability to build up franchise content, and the ability to make deals.
Rogers, who used to be the head of NBC Cable, said, “They had that person. His name was Kevin Mayer.” “They still have that person, and he’s still the best choice. The board did something wrong, and I hope they won’t do it again.” Mayer was Disney’s head of strategy for a long time. He worked on deals like the purchase of 21st Century Fox.
Before Mayer left, he was in charge of making Disney+ and getting it started. This was one of the most important jobs at the company. Since leaving Disney, he was CEO of TikTok for a short time. He then joined billionaire Len Blavatnik’s investment firm Access Industries and became chairman of sports streaming service DAZN.
Mayer and Staggs also run the entertainment startup Candle Media. There, they’ve used their mergers and acquisitions (M&A) experience with recent deals like Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine and children’s content maker CoComelon.
Mayer or Staggs would probably have to come back to Disney if Iger bought Candle Media. People who know about the situation say that Mayer has unfinished business with companies he has bought and has no plans to leave his current job. Iger might think CoComelon is a good intellectual property for Disney+, but he said at a town hall on Monday that he doesn’t want Disney to merge or buy anything in the near future.
The Disney observer said that Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz could also be a candidate, even though he doesn’t work for Disney. Kreiz has sold two companies to Disney: Fox Kids Europe, in which Disney bought a majority stake in 2001, and Maker Studios, in which Disney bought a majority stake in 2012.
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