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Bob Iger

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Bob Iger
Iger in 2013
Born
Robert Alan Iger

(1951-02-10) February 10, 1951 (age 73)
New York City, U.S.
EducationIthaca College (BS)
Title
Term
  • September 2005 – February 2020
  • November 2022 – present
Predecessor
SuccessorBob Chapek
Political party
Spouses
Kathleen Susan
(divorced)
(m. 1995)
Children4
RelativesJerry Iger (great-uncle)[2]
Signature

Robert Alan Iger (/ˈɡər/; born February 10, 1951)[3] is an American media executive who is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Walt Disney Company.[4] He previously was the President of the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) between 1994 and 1995 and President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Capital Cities/ABC, from 1995 until its acquisition by Disney in 1996. Iger was named President of Disney in 2000 and succeeded Michael Eisner as CEO in 2005, until his contract expired in 2020. He then was Executive Chairman until his formal retirement from the company on December 31, 2021. After his exit from the company, Iger continued as an advisor to his successor.

However, at the request of Disney's board of directors, Iger returned to Disney as CEO on November 20 2022, following the unscheduled and immediate dismissal of his appointed successor, Bob Chapek.[5] Iger's 2023 pay package included a base salary of $865,385, stock awards of $16.1 million, $10 million in stock option awards, $2.1 million in performance-based compensation and $2.48 million in other compensation, leading to a total pay award of $31.6 million, according to Disney's annual proxy statement. In July 2023, Disney renewed Iger's contract until 2026.

Considered a highly effective and visionary media executive, Iger was able to broaden Disney's roster of intellectual properties, expanded its presence in international markets, and oversaw an increase of the company's market capitalization from $56 billion to $231 billion during his initial 15-year stewardship of the company.[6] He led the major acquisitions of Pixar in 2006 for $7.4 billion, Marvel Entertainment in 2009 for $4 billion, Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4.06 billion, and the entertainment assets of 21st Century Fox in 2019 for $71.3 billion. Iger also expanded the company's theme park resorts presence in East Asia, with the introduction of Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and Shanghai Disney Resort in 2005 and 2016, respectively. Additionally, he was also the driving force behind the reinvigoration of Walt Disney Animation Studios, the branded-release strategy of its film studio's output, and the company's increased investment in its direct-to-consumer businesses, including Disney+ and Hulu.

Early life and education[edit]

Robert Alan Iger was born to a Jewish family in New York City.[4][3][7][8] He is the oldest son of Miriam "Mimi" (née Tunick) (1927–2013) and Arthur L. Iger (1926–2010).[9][10] His father was a World War II Navy veteran[11] who was the executive vice president and general manager of the Greenvale Marketing Corporation, and was also a professor of advertising and public relations.[12][9][11] His mother worked at Boardman Junior High School in Oceanside, New York.[13][14] Arthur's father Joe (i.e. Bob's paternal grandfather) was cartoonist Jerry Iger's brother.[2]

He was raised in Oceanside, where he attended the Fulton Avenue School and graduated from Oceanside High School in 1969.[15][16] In 1973, he graduated magna cum laude from the School of Communications at Ithaca College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Television and Radio.[17]

Career[edit]

Iger began his media career in 1972 as the host of Campus Probe, an Ithaca College television show. He dreamed of becoming a news anchor while he worked as a weatherman in Ithaca for five months, before shifting his career goals.[18][19]

American Broadcasting Company (ABC)[edit]

In 1974, Iger joined the American Broadcasting Company (ABC).[20][21] His first job was performing menial labor on television sets for $150 a week (over $700, adjusted for inflation).[11]

In 1988, Iger was the senior program executive for the Calgary Winter Olympics. The event was marred by disruptive weather and delayed events, and to fill the broadcast schedule Iger's team focused on human interest stories such as those of the Jamaican bobsled team and Eddie the Eagle. The event achieved record-high ratings for ABC, and Iger's performance under pressure caught the attention of ABC executives Daniel Burke and Thomas Murphy, who subsequently championed Iger throughout his ascent at ABC.[22]

In 1989, he was named head of ABC Entertainment, green lighting shows such as Twin Peaks, America's Funniest Home Videos[23] and Cop Rock.[24][25] He was president of the ABC Network Television Group from January 1993 to 1994, and was appointed as Capital Cities/ABC senior vice president in March 1993 and executive vice president in July 1993.[26] In 1994, Iger was named president and chief operating officer of ABC's corporate parent, Capital Cities/ABC.[27]

The Walt Disney Company[edit]

In 1995,[28] The Walt Disney Company purchased Capital Cities/ABC and renamed it ABC, Inc., where Iger remained chairman until 1999.[29][3]

On February 25, 1999, Disney named Iger the president of Walt Disney International, the business unit that oversees Disney's international operations, as well as chairman of the ABC Group, removing him from day-to-day authority at ABC. Disney called the change a promotion for Iger.[30]

Disney named Iger the president and chief operating officer (COO) on January 24, 2000, making him Disney's No. 2 executive under chairman and CEO, Michael Eisner. Disney had been without a separate president since Eisner assumed the role following the departure of Michael Ovitz in 1997, after sixteen months at Disney.[31]

In 2005 board members Roy E. Disney and Stanley Gold began a campaign called "save Disney" against Eisner.[32] As a result, Disney began a search for the next CEO to replace Eisner. On March 13, 2005, Disney announced that Iger would succeed Michael Eisner as CEO, and Iger was placed in charge of day-to-day operations, though Eisner held the title of CEO until he resigned on September 30, 2005.[33] In July 2005, Disney and Gold dropped the campaign and agreed to work with Iger.[34]

One of Iger's first major decisions as CEO was to reassign Disney's chief strategic officer, Peter Murphy, and disband the company's Strategic Planning division.[35] It was around this time Iger started to become known as "Bob" rather than "Robert".

On January 24, 2006, under Iger's leadership, Disney announced it would acquire Pixar for $7.4 billion in an all-stock transaction.[36] In the same year, Iger also re-acquired the rights to Walt Disney's first star, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, from NBCUniversal by releasing sportscaster Al Michaels from ABC Sports to NBC Sports.[37]

In August 2009, Iger negotiated for Disney to acquire Marvel Entertainment and its associated assets for $4 billion. By 2014, Disney had grossed more than that amount at the box office through the Marvel movies.[38] On October 7, 2011, Disney announced that Iger would become chairman of the board, following John Pepper's retirement from the board in March 2012.[39]

In October 2012, Iger signed a deal with filmmaker George Lucas to purchase Lucasfilm for $4 billion. As a result, Disney acquired the rights to the Star Wars multimedia franchise and Indiana Jones.[40] In March 2016, Iger announced the opening of the $5.5 billion Shanghai Disney Resort later that year.[41]

Iger's contract as Disney's chairman and CEO was originally planned to run until June 30, 2018.[42][43] In March 2017, Disney extended Iger's term to July 2, 2019, and said he would be a consultant for the following three years.[44][45] In December 2017, Disney extended Iger's contract through 2021.[46]

In July 2018 Disney and 21st Century Fox shareholders approved a deal to allow Disney to purchase Fox assets.[47] The deal was finalized in March 2019.[48]

In April 2019, it was announced that Iger would depart from his position as CEO and chairman of Disney when his contract expired in 2021.[49][50] Iger resigned from Apple's board of directors on September 10, 2019, in order to avoid a conflict of interest as Disney and Apple prepared to launch competing streaming services Disney+ and Apple TV+.[51][52]

In September 2019, Iger released his memoir The Ride of a Lifetime.[53][11]

In 2020, Iger announced his intention to retire. On February 25 that year, the board of directors named Bob Chapek – then-chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products – the new chief executive, while appointing Iger executive chairman (an ad hoc post) to oversee the transition.[54][55] In April however, the board unexpectedly extended Iger's mandate until the end of 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[56][57] On December 31, 2021, Iger stepped down and was succeeded by Susan Arnold as chair of the board.[58] However, on November 20, 2022, Chapek was ousted by the Disney board with Iger reinstated as CEO.[59] At the time of his rejoining Disney, Iger initially agreed to hold the post for two years while looking for a successor.[60][61] However, on July 12, 2023, Iger and Disney extended the contract until the end of 2026.[62][63]

Company boards[edit]

On November 15, 2011, Apple, Inc., led by CEO Tim Cook, named Iger to its board of directors. Iger was reportedly responsible for making Steve Jobs Disney's largest shareholder after its all-stock acquisition of Jobs' Pixar.[64] In September 2019, Iger resigned from his position on the board after Apple announced the pricing and release date of Apple TV+, a subscription streaming service which would compete with Disney+ upon its launch in November 2021.[65]

In October 2020, he became a director of the dairy-replacement startup Perfect Day (company).[66][67]

Iger joined the board of Genies, Inc. in March 2022.[68]

Personal life[edit]

Iger has been married twice. His first marriage to Kathleen Susan Iger ended in divorce.[69] They have two daughters. In 1995, Iger married journalist Willow Bay in an interfaith Jewish and Roman Catholic service in Bridgehampton, New York.[70]

According to Forbes, Iger's estimated net worth was about $690 million as of 2019.[71]

Politics[edit]

Iger has described himself as a political centrist. He previously identified with the Democratic Party.[72] In 2016, Iger switched his party registration from Democratic to independent.[1]

In May 2016, during a dispute over Disney Resort's low wages, Iger wrote in a Facebook post claiming that Disney had hired 11,000 new employees in the past decade at Disneyland, and 18,000 in the past 5 years in the U.S. Iger specifically targeted Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders, who had been outspoken on the issue.[73] Disney settled with the Department of Labor and agreed to pay back wages the following year.[74]

Iger co-chaired a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign on August 22, 2016.[75] He was named to President-elect Trump's Strategic and Policy Forum on December 2, 2016.[76] He resigned from the Forum on June 1, 2017, out of protest after President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement.[77]

Iger had considered running for president before and after the 2016 election as a Democrat, but ultimately decided against it.[78]

Accolades and recognition[edit]

In December 2019, Iger was named by Time as their Businessperson of the Year.[79] In 2020, he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.[80]

In September 2022, Iger was appointed an Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II "for services to the UK/US relations".[81][82]

Controversies[edit]

In November 2017, Variety reported that Iger knew about a 2010 Oscar party where Pixar chief John Lasseter was seen "making out with a junior staffer", seeming to confirm anonymous allegations that Lasseter's inappropriate interactions with young women had been known to company leadership since the 1990s. One anonymous source was quoted as saying, "I know personally that Bob was aware. ... Everybody was aware. They just didn't do anything about it."[83]

In August 2019, Vanity Fair reported that actress Paz de la Huerta added Iger to her lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein over allegations of rape, claiming that he and previous CEO Michael Eisner "made a series of decisions that allowed a range of actions by Harvey Weinstein that unacceptably harmed certain employees".[84] Disney denied any knowledge of misconduct or settlements with victims during Weinstein's run at Miramax from 1993 to 2005.[83]

During a July 2023 interview on CNBC, Iger criticized the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes as "not realistic". He added that the unions "are adding to the set of the challenges that this business is already facing that is, quite frankly, very disruptive."[85] Iger's comments were widely criticized both inside and outside of Hollywood for being elitist and out of touch, with The Huffington Post writer Marina Fang noting Iger's $27 million annual salary that he received when rejoining Disney.[85]

Works[edit]

  • Iger, Robert (September 23, 2019). The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company. Penguin Random House. ISBN 9780399592096. OCLC 1111242203.

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
Brandon Stoddard
President of ABC Entertainment
1989–1992
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Vacant
(Previously Michael Ovitz)
President of the Walt Disney Company
2000–2012
Succeeded by
Vacant
Preceded by CEO of the Walt Disney Company
2005–2020
Succeeded by
Preceded by CEO of the Walt Disney Company
2022–
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chairman of the Walt Disney Company
2012–2021
Succeeded by
New title Executive chairman of the Walt Disney Company
2020–2021
Vacant