Iger handed over the company’s reins to Chapek in February 2020 after leading it for 15 years. It was an unexpected choice, given that streaming chief Kevin Mayer was seen as a more likely heir to the Disney throne than Chapek, who oversaw parks and entertainment. But Iger reportedly chose Chapek as his successor and has stated repeatedly that he is content to be retired. In March 2020, Iger stated, “I can’t think of a better person to succeed me in this role.”
He has an impressive track record. Disney reinvented itself during its first tenure as CEO by acquiring Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Pixar. Disney’s board of directors expects Iger to right the ship during his two-year possible extension.
“As Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation,” board Chairman Susan Arnold wrote, “Bob Iger is uniquely positioned to lead the Company through this pivotal period.”
Bringing in a former CEO to provide stability is not unusual in business. Former Apple snub Steve Jobs returned to the company in 1997, and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz recently rejoined the company as interim CEO.