Disney CEO Bob Iger, who steered the company through successful purchases of Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox's entertainment businesses and the launch of a Netflix challenger, is stepping down immediately, the company said in a surprise announcement Tuesday. The Walt Disney Co. named as his replacement Bob Chapek, most recently chairman of Disney's parks, experiences and products business, the AP reports. Iger will remain executive chairman through the end of his contract Dec. 31, 2021. "I will continue to conduct the company's creative endeavors while also leading the board," Iger said on a conference call with reporters and analysts. His most recent coup was orchestrating a $71 billion acquisition of Fox's entertainment assets and launching the Disney Plus streaming service in November. That service gained nearly 29 million paid subscribers in less than three months.
Iger said he wanted to focus on the creative side of the business after getting those assets and strategies in place. He said he could not do that while running Disney on a day-to-day basis. “It was not accelerated for any partiucalr reason other than I felt the need was now to make this change," he said. "Did not see this coming -- Wowza," tweeted LightShed media analyst Rich Greenfield. Iger became chief executive of Disney in 2005 after a shareholder revolt by Roy E. Disney led to the ouster of longtime chief Michael Eisner. Iger steered Disney through successful acquisitions of Lucasfilms, Marvel, Pixar and other brands that became big moneymakers for Disney. Iger, a former weatherman, joined broadcaster ABC in 1974, 22 years before Disney bought the network. At ABC, Iger developed such successful programs as Home Improvement, The Drew Carey Show, and America’s Funniest Home Videos and was instrumental in launching the quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
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