Bob Iger Won’t Satisfy Disney Investors Until He Names His Replacement

  • Bob Iger seems to have convinced investors that he is truly transforming Disney.
  • But he won’t get a final grade until he does the one thing he’s been really bad at: finding a successor.
  • We won’t know how this plays out for some time.

Okay, Bob Iger. You won.

So, after your victory in the proxy battle against Nelson Peltz and his Trian Partners fund, what’s next?

Maybe less than you think.

Part of this is because the Disney CEO has already spent a lot of time and energy responding to Peltz and trying to demonstrate to investors that he is righting the ship.

This includes company-wide cost reductions, in part through significant layoffs; transform streaming from a money pit into a business expected to turn a profit very soon; and new ventures that could help the company grow in the future, such as launching sports streaming and a partnership with Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite.

And Wall Street really liked what Iger did. Disney shares are up 35% this year alone.

“We have reached a milestone,” Iger told shareholders in a pre-recorded message Wednesday.

But Peltz’s most effective argument — which even people within the company acknowledge — is that Iger and the board have done a miserable job of finding Iger’s replacement. Those struggles — including his regrets over the one replacement he chose before returning to replace him in 2022 — have been well-documented.

Today, after several false starts, Iger promises to finally succeed this time. He promises he will have someone ready to go when he leaves – for good, he insists – at the end of 2026.

However, it will be practically impossible to assess this progress from the outside. Disney has made it clear that it is considering internal candidates, like Disney Entertainment co-star Dana Walden and ESPN CEO Jimmy Pitaro. And there is always the possibility that someone from outside the company will be recruited.

But good luck trying to figure out how that happens until Iger clears his throat and makes a statement.

Which means we won’t really know if Iger has finally turned the corner, for good, for some time to come. How long will investors’ patience last?


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