Keeping Up with the Murdochs: Fox's Hierarchy & Disney's Corporate Future

Edited: April 5, 2021, 3:20 PM

Recently, I've been offering up a post or two regarding Disney CEO Bob Chapek and, specifically, who his successor might be. By Disney standards, Mr. Chapek assumed the helm as CEO when he was a bit long in the tooth.

Michael Eisner became the CEO of Disney in 1984 when he was 42 years-old. He remained at the top of Disney until 2005 (21 years) stepping down at age 63.

Robert Iger became the CEO of Disney in 2005 when he was 54 years-old. He remained the Disney chief until 2020 (15 years) stepping down at 69.

Bob Chapek became the CEO of Disney in 2020. He is more than 60 years old.

The general consensus around TPI has been that Mr. Chapek is something of a placeholder whose tenure would not last as long as his predecessors. Offering up my opinion, I armchair quarterbacked the idea that Lachlan Murdoch (son of Fox media Godfather Rupert Murdoch) might be a likely candidate to step into the CEO role in a post Chapek era.

But then something happened this past weekend that was kind of scary.

The New York Times reports that "Fox Corporation CEO Lachlan Murdoch is rumored to have turned control of the company to its chief legal officer – who is also the godfather of his son – after abruptly moving back to Australia last month. The New York Times published a profile on the chief legal officer, Viet Dinh, on Sunday, which examined the ‘sociable and relentless’ Republican lawyer’s role at Fox Corp. Lachlan, the son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, left Los Angeles for Australia amid claims that Joe Biden’s election made things ‘rough’ for his family, given Fox Corp’s reputation as catering to the GOP ... Fox Corp insiders told the Times that Lachlan’s move intensified Dinh’s power in the company."

Apparently, even though Lachlan can afford to buy two pairs of socks, his feet are still feeling a bit frosty.

I suspect Mr. Chapek will be running Disney until at least 2025 -- just four short years from now. But with Mr. Iger bowing out all together at the end of this year, and an apparent transition of corporate power over at Fox ... Well, there's a powerful vacuum that could be opening up for the CEO throne at Disney -- a throne whose occupant (sans the "Chapek anomaly") typically remains seated for more than a decade.

Considering how powerful Disney has become, the absence of an heir apparent is fairly disconcerting.

And if you have a moment, take the time to read about Mr. Dihn's background. He's 53 years old. I would have real concerns about someone this deeply political running the Walt Disney Company -- either as its CEO or as a guy pulling the strings from behind the scenes.

Replies (3)

Edited: April 5, 2021, 6:35 PM

By the way, for some perspective about the tremors and palace intrigue at Fox, check out this up front currently floating on Yahoo's homepage.

April 6, 2021, 3:40 PM

So, out side of the 53 year old Mr. Dihn, who else might be considered as a candidate to become CEO of the Walt Disney Company? The first and most obvious name that comes to mind is Steve Burke -- the former Disney exec, ABC President and current Senior Advisor and (I think) former Senior Executive Vice President of Comcast Corporation and
Chairman of NBCUniversal. I said "I think" because he had planned to retire but in August 2020 but I can't determine if he actually pulled that trigger.

At just 40 years old it's clear his career is far from over. And Disney could throw a truckload of money at him.

Burke would appear to be a top contender.

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