CEO Bob Iger Says There Was Never A Desire To Be On Top At Disney

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In a video by Variety, Bob Iger sits down with J.J. Abrams and discusses how he became the head of The Walt Disney Company.

“It’s interesting looking back on a career that’s 42 years at ABC Disney, and a year as a weatherman. It kinda looks like it’s a straight line to the outside world, but in many ways, it’s not at all. There are turns left and right and starts and stops, and so as I think back at how I got where I am and what decisions did I make and how much ambition did I feel or did I exhibit, I pretty much was about doing the job that I was given and trying to be great at it.”

(ABC/Image Group LA)
GEORGE LUCAS, ROBERT A. IGER (Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company)

Bob Iger was named COO of Disney in 2000 before succeeding Michael Eisner at CEO in 2005. Since then, Iger has grown Disney’s line-up of intellectual properties acquiring Pixar in 2006, Marvel Entertainment in 2009, and Lucasfilm in 2012. He’s also introduced new theme parks, like Hong Kong Disneyland Resort in 2005 and oversaw the newest park, Shanghai Disneyland Resort, in 2016.

PHOTOS, VIDEO: Toy Story Land Entrance, Coaster Track, and Star Wars Land Rise at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Obviously, after earning Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm throughout the years, they’ve been heavily promoted throughout Disney Parks. Recently, Toy Story Land opened at Shanghai Disneyland and will open this summer at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World. Toy Story Playland has had a home at Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris since 2010 and Hong Kong Disneyland has had Toy Story Land since 2011. On June 23rd, 2018, Pixar Pier will open in Disneyland. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will find homes at both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World in 2019. Avengers: Infinity War has surpassed the billion dollar mark, showcasing the powerhouse that The Walt Disney Company is. Marvel is slowly, but surely, being incorporated into the parks, too, like the renovation of Disney’s Hotel New York in Disneyland Paris to showcase Marvel in a contemporary art style. And, of course, there’s the highly-anticipated Guardians of the Galaxy roller-coaster going in Epcot.

“It wasn’t quite a straight line, but it was a not a plan, either. It was never either a desire or a plan for me to start at the bottom and work my way to the top. I just wanted to do well at whatever I was given.”

But Iger did work his way to the top, and over an eleven year span, Disney’s market capitalization value increased from $48.4 billion to $163 billion. In 2011, it was announced that Iger would also be named Chairman of the Board at the company after he expressed his visions of international expansion, technological innovation, and a renewed focus on traditional animation as Disney’s top strategic priorities.

“I’ve been, throughout these 40 some-odd years, I’ve been really lucky to be taught by some pretty special people.”

And although Iger said he was originally going to retire in 2019, it seems as though he’ll be sticking around through at least 2021 because of the pending Disney-Fox deal.

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About the author

Whitney

I have been visiting Walt Disney World annually since I was 7 years old and haven't mentally left it since. Living in Arkansas, but dreaming of Orlando. You can find me at [email protected] and @whitydarling on any social media channel.

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  • Bob Iger NEVER should have been on top at Disney. Huge mistake. He should have been on top of the Media Acquisitions, and perhaps some of their media outfits, but not the bottom line decision maker. He is wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy to cheap, and a numbers cruncher guy to have any vision. He couldn’t care less about franchises longevity, how the theme parks are run. Customer experience means nothing beyond ‘did they pay or not’. If he can squeeze 20 more films out of Pirates of Caribbean, or maybe a Marvel movie where Superman meets Darth Vader with another 10 sequels, the only thing that will matter, is the immediately bottom line. Not the diluting of the brand. He’s way past his time to go, but Disney executives are only into ‘today’s profits’, and refuse to pay for good talent, which is why he’s still in this position. Companies with this vision don’t last long. Is no wonder their stock is poor compared to comparative companies. I love WDW< but long for the day it returns to a balance of profitability, and some concern over a positive 'experience'. 'Legacy".

      • Yea, I saw that, a sales pitch, but none really believable when you see their actions…not Iger’s words. I can also read the stocks compared to Comcast and others. Iger has been good at acquiring franchises, Pixar, Marvel, etc, because Disney’s OWN brands have been so diluted and poorly run. Yes, the company has grown on his long tenure, but the product has suffered. Now, the franchises Disney bought are being turned into quick, cheap, money grabs. Just as WDW has. Iger is no friend of WDW nor the brand Disney. He is good for the current board and managers who want maximum profit at the end of the day. They do not care about the brand’s legacy or how poor guests’ or viewers experiences are…only their money…which should be part of the balance.

  • Iger is not a fan by any stretch of “Disney”. He truly hates the USA Disney World and Disney Land parks and their guests. I’ve always though he’d be a better CEO of a company that doesn’t involve customer happiness. Maybe Exxon, Chesapeake Energy. Something less where the best customer experience and legacy is important. Ask people what they think of Disney World now, ” very expensive for what you get, understaffed, overcrowded, poor quality, nothing like it used to be” comes to top of surveys. Disney managers are only bonused on how much they make, How happy customers are plays no role. At all.

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