Yesterday, this Bloomberg article spurred several reactions from Disney fans:
After Tom Staggs stepped down as a possible replacement from Bob Iger, several names have appeared as posible CEO’s. Bob Chapek might come as a surprise for many, but it is someone who has been working for the company during decades.
About the career span that Chapek has at DIsney, Bloomberg explains:
Chapek, whose 24-year career at Disney has included roles in the film studio and consumer products, is now viewed as a likely successor to Iger, according to people familiar with the company. While no formal decision has been made, Disney is under pressure to find a replacement because Iger is scheduled to retire in July 2019, leaving 19 months to complete a transition. If history is any guide, Disney may soon name a chief operating officer or president, currently unoccupied roles that Iger held for five years before becoming CEO in 2005.
Many fans have criticized Chapek as a possible CEO because of its work as the head of the theme park division, especially this:
At the parks division, Chapek has focused on pricing, introducing a tiered system of tickets that cost more during peak times and eliminating some annual passes. He’s searched for ways to get patrons to pay extra for perks such as nighttime events and passes to get to the head of the line in the company’s California parks.
But the same community that blames Chapek for these decisions forgets his efforts in achieving important goals for the Disney Parks:
Since taking over the theme-park division in February 2015, Chapek ensured the Shanghai resort, Disney’s largest foreign investment, turned a profit in its first year of operation. He also guided the openings of an “Avatar”-themed attraction in Orlando, Florida, and a “Guardians of the Galaxy” ride in Anaheim, California, that have led to attendance gains this year at the company’s domestic theme parks.
In July Chapek unveiled a flurry of new projects at the parks, including a “Star Wars”-themed hotel in Orlando and Marvel superhero rides in Anaheim. Disney told investors on Nov. 9 that its budget for investments in the parks will expand this fiscal year by about $1 billion.
Still, Bob Chapek doesn’t feel as the right contender for a CEO. He has shown that he can make numbers shine, and that’s good, but Disney needs a creative person. Someone who is just interested in maximizing revenue might be sad news for the company. Pixar is struggling to keep up with quality storytelling, were in the middle of a second Disney Renaissance, Disney Parks is dealing with huge expansions and Lucasfilm is working out the next phase of Star Wars and, possibly, Indiana Jones.
In many ways, Bob Chapek resembles Jeffrey Katzenberg in the 90’s: willing to do projects as long as it keeps the bankers happy.
The successor of Bob Iger should be willing to give creative freedom to many moving parts, and I don’t see Chapek being able to handle all of it without stagnating some parts of the company.
The Iger era consolidated The Walt Disney Company with Pixar, Lucasfilm and Marvel. The next CEO next to make sense of all this and still keep the creative values that have kept Disney afloat.