Vote of the Week: Who Should be Disney's CEO?
The decision to delay Bob Iger's retirement
— again — raises the question: Who really ought to be running the Walt Disney Company? Originally, Iger was going to be stepping down next year, with a replacement named by now. That decision was kicked down the road for a year, and now the company's delayed a decision about a potential successor for yet another year. Iger won't be leaving until 2018.
Who should get the top job in here?
Conventional wisdom in the business world has been that you don't want your CEO to be a lame duck. If the CEO is about to retire, you want a successor in place so that employees, vendors, licensors, and investors know who's going to be making the big-money decisions about spending and investments for the years to come. No one wants to be the one in a company on the hook for a multi-million or multi-billion dollar project without the support of the CEO. If you're taking on a multi-year project for which the current CEO won't be around, you need to know that you at least have the support of the incoming CEO. Otherwise, you're risking the future of the project... and your career with the company.
Iger's three times now announced a departure date from Disney, pushing that date further back with each announcement. Perhaps this is just a passive-aggressive way of walking away from the decision to retire at all. After all, Iger's 63 now — relatively young for a CEO. Disney's making sick money with him in charge and the stock market seems perfectly happy with Iger running the show. Disney's been making huge acquisitions: Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. It's been investing billions in cruise ships and its theme parks. There doesn't seem to be any loss of momentum at the company. And there's no clear choice to succeed Iger, either. Disney's been grooming Tom Staggs and Jay Rasulo as potential successors, with each serving as chief financial officer and the chairman of Disney Parks during Iger's tenure.
If there's one thing to be said about Disney under Bob Iger's leadership, it's that the company is making money. But if there's a knock on Iger, it's that under him the company seems to be only about making money. There's none of the futurism that Walt brought in his final years, the steadfast commitment to family entertainment of the Card Walker era, or the world-conquering expansion of the early Michael Eisner years. Under Iger, Disney rides its big-money franchises for everything they are worth.
Some Walt Disney World fans complain that Iger hasn't spent enough money to refurbish and expand that resort. Under Iger, Disney spends money to make money — not to win imaginary points from Disney fans on message boards. Initiatives such as MyMagic+, the New Fantasyland, and Disney Springs are directed at improving long-term financial performance at a resort that continues to lead the world in attendance and revenue. Iger's Disney is all about getting people to spend more money, not winning praise from critics while fans spend the same (or less!) on the company.
But could Disney being doing even more? Might Staggs or Rasulo provide a spark that would inspire the company to both greater commercial success while improving its critical appeal? Is there someone else at the company who could do better in the CEO role? Or does Disney need an outsider's leadership to achieve its potential?
It's Vote of the Week time. If you'd like to see someone other that Iger, Rasulo, or Staggs lead the Mouse House, tell us that name in the comments.
It's your turn to campaign for the Disney CEO job, in the comments. Tell us how you'd like to see the Walt Disney Company run!
Why no Robert Niles on this List?
Who cares about that one person. He wont make a difference, expect a negative one if the salery is as insane as typical at Disney.
I'm sorry but what exactly do you mean by "futurism?"
To nominate another individual not currently on this list I'm choosing someone that is a bit of a hybrid of the options "Someone from outside Disney" and "Someone else from within the company:"
Matt Ouimet, CEO Cedar Fair, former president of Disneyland.
All CEOs are overpaid. Why not have a real election... by the people, not just the stockholders (of which I am one). The people who really make Disney what it is are the cast members (which I am NOT one, just a wanna-bee). Why not let all cast members make that big decision. Let the contenders present their credentials and see who gets picked. As a stockholder, I'll buy more if I like their choice, and sell if I don't. My 24 visits have sold me that the cast memebrs ARE what makes Disney what it is.
A Disney Theme Park should be full of magic, adventure, and everything Walt himself would be proud of...
Iger has done pretty well at stopping the bleed that happened at the end of Eisner. I actually think he has been most successful in integrating Disney into the Apps and Smartphone age.
@ Robert and Anthony - You both must be aware that Robert Iger is regularly recognized as a tech smart CEOs.
Robert Niles for CEO!!! Lets start the campaign!
I think John Lasseter should have the job. Him, or someone else who cares about creating greatness and quality, and doing right by the company's theme parks.
Some film executive outside the company (*Adam Goodman or Dan Fellman to name a few). I could also live/deal with Kathleen Kennedy. Point I'm trying to make here is it's time for Disney to bring in some new blood/leadership from outside the company and make a film executive in charge of a company and not a media executive for TWDC CEO/President.
I'll do it if noone else wants to do it. I'll make that sacrifice :p
Catmull and Lasseter would be good choices for promotion. I don't necessarily know that I'd pick one as CEO, but I think Lasseter as Chief Creative Officer alongside a Staggs or Rafulo in the CEO chair and Catmull as President would make a good team, as long as John was empowered to really take a creative lead. Another interesting choice for me would be to make someone like Vaughn from WDI the CEO. They'd likely need a bit of grooming in order to get to grips with movies and TV, but I've always liked the idea of Imagineering being the governing principle of the company, as it was in many ways when Walt was in charge
When Walt was in charge, the company hadn't yet bloated into an elephantine, "let's buy the world" unwieldy media conglomerate. A real visionary CEO would divest the company of its non-core assets and refocus on making the Disney name stand for greatness and quality once again.
"If you completely play it safe you may get by for awhile, but eventually it will catch up to you." - Robert Iger
This one is GREAT! At around 11 minutes he talks about Steve Jobs' brutal and vocal honesty. He says: "Steve called me one time and said 'Hey Bob, I saw that new movie you released last Saturday. It sucked!'"
Jerry Jones. Just kidding, but maybe someone more focused on creativity. I really don't know too many execs.
The who bit I'm not qualified to judge, but I have ideas for what they should do.
My initial response to the suggestion of Tom Hanks was to laugh and move on.
I suggest everyone invest the time to watch Brian Grazer's conversation with Robert Iger before making an assessment as to who should be CEO.
Just like the best person to run a car company if you want new, exciting cars is an engineer. So the best person to run Disney is an excited, eager upper end Imagineer if you ask me.
In response to Grant Crawford's post above:
I think there needs to be more focus on the parks. Walt Disney World is overdue for a fifth gate and Epcot is starting to show its age more and more. I love going to Disney Parks but they need to add more ways for me to give my money to Disney. Rob Iger's focus has been more on the movie and merchandise end of things rather than improving the parks like Eisner did. I think they will announce their Star Wars plans next year so hopefully they will make it a big project, not just some refurbishment.
Tony Baxter is the only logical option I see, but that will never happen since they drove him out of the company.
By the time Mr. Iger steps down, Tony Baxter will be in his seventies.
I really wonder how many of the folks posting here and making suggestions about who should be Disney's CEO invested the time to watch the interviews posted above before formulating their opinions.
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