Robert A. "Bob" Iger
(born February 10 1951
) is the head of The Walt Disney Company
. He was the president of Capital Cities/ABC from 1994-1999, has been the president of the Walt Disney Company since January 2000 and CEO since October 2005.
Robert Allen Iger was born to a Jewish family in Oceanside, New York
to Mimi and Arthur Iger of Long Beach, L.I. His mother worked at Boardman Junior High School in Oceanside, L.I. and his father was the executive vice president and general manager of the Greenvale (L.I.) Marketing Corporation, and a professor of advertising and public relations. He finished his undergraduate studies at Ithaca College
and began his media career as a weatherman for a local television station (
). He joined the American Broadcasting Company
in 1973 and gradually rose through its ranks during the following decades. He served as president of the ABC Network Television Group
from 1993 to 1994, and then was named president and chief operating officer of ABC's corporate parent, Capital Cities/ABC
. In 1996, The Walt Disney Company bought Capital Cities/ABC and renamed it ABC, Inc.
, where Iger remained president until 1999.
On February 25
, Disney replaced Iger at the helm of ABC with Steve Bornstein
, the head of ESPN
at the time, and 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. Disney called the change a promotion for Iger. But the company's insistence was initially viewed with skepticism, as some thought Iger was merely being removed from day-to-day authority at ABC since ABC had been struggling recently (
However, less than one year later Disney promoted Iger yet again. On January 25 2000, Disney named Iger president and chief operating officer, making him the company's number two executive under then Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner. Eisner had been under pressure to name a potential successor, since Disney had a president for only 16 months (when Michael Ovitz served as president from 1995 to 1997) after Frank Wells died in 1994.
As Disney CEO
For over five years, Iger served as Disney's number two executive, largely under Eisner's shadow. But on March 13 2005
, after over a year of public pressure from Roy Disney
campaign to oust Michael Eisner, Disney announced that Iger would replace Eisner as CEO. He had considered only one other possible replacement, eBay
CEO Meg Whitman
. Since Eisner had been under pressure to step down, many were skeptical of Iger, who was indeed Eisner's hand-picked successor, and suspected that Eisner might use him as a puppet after he had formally stepped down.
However, Iger immediately moved to show his independence from Eisner. Before he even formally assumed command of the company, he sacked one of Eisner's top lieutenants. On March 26, Iger made his first move at the helm of Disney when he reassigned Peter Murphy, the company's chief strategic officer, and pledged to disband the company's strategic planning division. The division, which Eisner had created, was charged by many inside and outside the company with stifling creativity under a superfluous layer of bureaucracy. Iger vowed to restore much of the decision-making authority that the division had assumed to the individual business units, such as Parks and Resorts and Studio Entertainment.
Iger also reacquired the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and resurrected negotiations with Disney's film production partner Pixar Animation Studios, and reconciled the company's differences with former shareholders Roy E. Disney and Stanley Gold, who in July 2005 dropped their SaveDisney campaign and agreed to work with Iger. Disney, Gold, and Pixar chairman Steve Jobs had all been alienated by Iger's predecessor, Eisner.
On October 1, the first official day of Iger's term at the helm of the media conglomerate, Iger fired many senior staff at the Muppets Holding Company, the subsidiary of Disney which controls The Muppets Eisner had personally hand-picked this staff himself when the Muppets became Disney property in April 2004. Many saw Iger's action as a sign that Disney is entering a new era with no baggage from Eisner. Iger also brought back Roy E. Disney with the titles Director Emeritus and consultant.
He is currently in negotiations with Amblin Entertainment and Lucasfilm so that Disney can do more with the Roger Rabbit franchise and Star Wars and Indiana Jones tie-ins at the theme parks in addition to Pixar.
On January 24 2006
, in a move that would have been inconceivable a year earlier, Disney announced it would acquire Pixar
for US $7.4 billion in an all-stock transaction. The merger installed animator John Lasseter
as chief creative officer of the Disney/Pixar animation studios and principal creative advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering
, the division that designs theme park attractions. It also made Steve Jobs
Disney's top shareholder with 7 percent of outstanding shares and gave him a new seat on Disney's board of directors.
Many Disney observers applauded Iger for bringing Lasseter, who is widely hailed as a creative genius, and Jobs, who is likewise seen as a technological visionary, to Disney. For example, Roy E. Disney, who had been critical of Iger for his role as Eisner's deputy, issued this statement: "Animation has always been the heart and soul of the Walt Disney Company and it is wonderful to see Bob Iger and the company embrace that heritage by bringing the outstanding animation talent of the Pixar team back into the fold. This clearly solidifies the Walt Disney Company's position as the dominant leader in motion picture animation and we applaud and support Bob Iger's vision"
- Iger is married to journalist Willow Bay, his second marriage. Her mother is the executive director of the Colonial Dames of America in New York and her father was a magazine publisher. They were wed by both a cantor and a reverend. He has four children, two with Ms. Bay.
- Iger's great-uncle, cartoonist Jerry Iger, was a business partner of cartoonist Will Eisner (no relation to Michael Eisner).
- In May 2006 he appeared as a guest on Michael Eisner's CNBC talk show.