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Big news: Disney losing Tom Staggs, heir apparent to CEO Bob Iger


I had to double check the calendar on this one, but it’s square root day, not that other holiday. Disney says that current COO Tom Staggs, the heir apparent to CEO Bob Iger, will leave the company as of May 6. This is big news and a potential break in the previously supposed chain of inheritance for the Walt Disney Company.

Mr. Staggs said, “Disney truly stands alone, not only because of the Company’s phenomenal creativity, but also because of the thousands of remarkable people who make it such an extraordinary place. It’s been a privilege to work with them and be inspired by their creativity and commitment. It’s also been a great experience to work with Bob during this dynamic era of unprecedented growth and transformation. I remain grateful for that opportunity, and I’m confident that Disney’s future will be just as exciting as its legendary past.”

“Tom has been a great friend and trusted colleague for more than 20 years,” said Mr. Iger. “He’s made important contributions to this company, earning wide respect across the organization for his achievements and personal integrity. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together, immensely grateful for the privilege of working with him, and confident that he will be enormously successful in whatever opportunity he chooses.”

Many fans were hopeful that Staggs would eventually take over the role of CEO as they saw his reign over the Disney Parks and Resorts division as generally a good one.

Update: Various sources are reporting that Staggs left because he was told the Disney Board of Directors were not confident that he could lead the company. Which A) strikes me as bullshit. Staggs was 100% capable with a hand in many of the key business decisions in the last decade and a half (Pixar, Lucasfilm, Avatar, Marvel, etc) and B) is a ridiculous move by the board as this leaves no obvious in-house successor. Investors are not likely to want to board a ship without a captain or a rudder, but that’s how the BoD has left the company.

Disney says that Staggs will remain employed by the Company in the role of special advisor to the Chief Executive Officer, Robert A. Iger, through this fiscal year.

This news leaves Disney on a rush search for a successor to Bob Iger who will be stepping down as Chair and CEO in two years. (I’m available, just sayin’.) Jay Rasulo (who was also in the running)  stepped down last year after it was assumed that Staggs would get the CEO role.

Personally this makes my sleeper candidate, Kathleen Kennedy from Lucasfilm, more likely than I had thought. Do you have a candidate in mind?

4 thoughts on “Big news: Disney losing Tom Staggs, heir apparent to CEO Bob Iger”

  1. Steve Burke at Comcast. They can both match the money but Burke will never run Comcast because of Roberts. He can run Disney in 2 years.

  2. Foolish move by the board… But what’s done is done.

    I agree that Kathleen becomes a real possibility, IF she would be willing and able to take a step away from the Star Wars franchise and the purely creative space. There’s a lot more to the Disney business that frankly needs strong direction.

  3. My biggest concern is a CEO that understands if your focus is the bottom line and you spurn innovation you ultimately hurt the bottom line. I don’t know enough about the current leadership at Disney to make a pick, but as a Kathleen Kennedy fan girl I would love to see her at the helm although I find it highly unlikely.

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