Theme Park Insider

Disney Names Tom Staggs COO, Putting Him in Line to Succeed Bob Iger

February 5, 2015, 10:31 AM · The Walt Disney Company today announced that Disney Parks Chairman Tom Staggs will become Disney's new Chief Operating Officer. That puts Staggs into the number two position at the company, behind Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger. The move puts Staggs into the clear position to replace Iger when the Iger's contract expires in 2018.

Staggs with Vader
Tom Staggs (on the right, duh), with another very important person in the Disney organization, at the debut of 'Star Tours: The Adventures Continue' at Disneyland in 2011.

"Tom is an incredibly experienced, talented and versatile executive who has led Parks and Resorts during a time of unprecedented growth and expansion, including the construction of Shanghai Disney Resort. His proven ability to lead a business as well as his successful tenure as Disney’s former CFO make him an ideal Chief Operating Officer, expanding his portfolio into all the company’s businesses," Iger said in a statement.

Iger chose Staggs over Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo, the former head of the Disney Parks, whom Staggs replaced when they swapped jobs in 2009. Rasulo declined to extend his contract with Disney last month, prompting speculation that he was not going to get the COO job. Without a Disney contract, Rasulo will be free to accept a CEO position elsewhere.

Not that Staggs is guaranteed getting the Disney CEO position. Iger twice now has accepted extensions to his contract, so his departure in 2018 is not a done deal. Furthermore, according to a Variety report:

"Rumors persist that some Disney board members are leaning toward other options including persuading [Pixar chief John] Lasseter to take the top job after Iger steps down.

Iger, however, is likely to be sympathetic to his lieutenant’s situation. He endured a long apprenticeship under former [CEO Michael] Eisner after being promoted from ABC chief to president of Disney’s international wing in 1999, and then to Disney president-chief operating officer in 2000."

Staggs will remain the head of Disney Parks as he takes on the COO job.

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Replies (8)

February 5, 2015 at 1:11 PM · If Mr. Iger does retire in 2018, Mr. Staggs will take over as CEO at the age of 57 (currently 54).

In 1978, Mr. Ron Miller became CEO at age 50 -- and held the position for six years.

In 1984, Mr. Micahel Eisner became CEO at the age of 42 (Wow!) -- and held the position for twenty-one years (wow, again!)

In 2005 Mr. Iger became CEO at the age of 54 -- and (assuming he actually retires in 2018) will have held the position for 13 years.

February 5, 2015 at 1:29 PM · If Staggs was crucial to landing Pixar back at Disney, then chances are that John Lasseter and him might have a close working relationship, which is a good thing.
February 5, 2015 at 2:56 PM · It's pretty interesting that the disney company is a had only 3 CEOs over a period of 40 years.
February 5, 2015 at 3:18 PM · Miller was CEO from 1983 to 1984.
February 5, 2015 at 3:50 PM · Staggs was the best choice to succeed Iger. Lasseter's skills would be wasted dealing with financial details, contracts and lawyers. This move will free Lasseter up to play a more creative role.

It's great news, if Staggs and Lasseter get along well. Disney does its best work, whenever they have a creative genius paired with a well-rounded numbers man.

Perhaps, Iger really is stepping down in 2018. I hope so. No man should stay in the top job for too long. If he leaves in 2018, he will still be fondly remembered.

February 5, 2015 at 5:31 PM · Better Staggs than Jay Rasulo. At least Staggs seems to have a feel & perhaps a bit of passion for the parks. He actually spends some time in the parks, business & recreation, something that Rasulo & Iger don't. And that bit of hands on resulted in a few good decisions such as the substitution of 7 Dwarfs Coaster & the circus area for the originally planned princess & fairy meet & greets. Rasulo was the driving force behind the Next Gen fiasco, he's just a numbers guy, & they're the worst kind. Staggs will have a couple of years to prove whether or not he'll be chosen as CEO. Staggs has a numbers background too, but I believe he can work with creative types too. The next 2-3 years will be interesting. I think Disney is starting to turn the corner concerning park expansions, though I wish they wouldn't be so slow getting their stuff from planning to built.
February 5, 2015 at 8:01 PM · Gotta love the photo caption
February 10, 2015 at 12:25 PM · He has a lot to live up to because of all the money Iger made.

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