|Intro||American businessman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company|
|A.K.A.||Robert Allen "Bob" Iger, Robert Iger, Robert A. Iger, Robert Allen Iger|
|Is||Business executive Businessperson Film producer|
|From||United States of America|
|Type||Business Film, Television, Stage and Radio|
|Birth||10 February 1951, Oceanside, USA|
Robert Allen Iger (/ˈaɪɡər/; born February 10, 1951) is an American media executive, film producer, author and businessman who is Executive Chairman and former Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O.) of The Walt Disney Company from 2005 to 2020. Before working for Disney, Iger served as the President of ABC Television from 1994 to 1995, and as President/COO of Capital Cities/ABC, Inc. from 1995 until Disney's acquisition of the company in 1996.
He was named President and COO of Disney in 2000, and later succeeded Michael Eisner as CEO in 2005, after a successful effort by Roy E. Disney to shake up the management of the company. As part of his yearly compensation, Iger earned $44.9 million in 2015. During Iger's tenure, Disney broadened the company's roster of intellectual properties and its presence in international markets; Iger oversaw the acquisitions of Pixar in 2006 for $7.4 billion, Marvel Entertainment in 2009 for $4 billion, Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4.06 billion, and 21st Century Fox in 2019 for $71.3 billion, as well as the expansion of the company's theme park resorts in East Asia, with the introduction of Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and Shanghai Disney Resort in 2005 and 2016, respectively.
Iger was a driving force behind the reinvigoration of Walt Disney Animation Studios and the branded-release strategy of its film studio's output. Under Iger, Disney has experienced increases in revenue across its various divisions, with the company's market capitalization value increasing from $48.4 billion to $257 billion over a period of thirteen years.
On February 25, 2020, Iger announced he would step down as CEO of The Walt Disney Company effective immediately, naming Bob Chapek, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, as his successor, making him the 7th CEO in the company’s history. Iger will continue to serve as Executive Chairman on Disney's Board of Directors until December 2021.
Iger was born to a Jewish family in New York City. He is the oldest son of Mimi (née Tunick) and Arthur L. Iger (b. 1926). His father was a World War II Navy veteran who served as the executive vice president and general manager of the Greenvale Marketing Corporation, and was also a professor of advertising and public relations; he also played the trumpet and had manic-depressive disorder. His mother worked at Boardman Junior High School in Oceanside, New York. Arthur's father Joe (i.e. Bob's paternal grandfather) was cartoonist Jerry Iger's brother.
He was raised in Oceanside, where he attended the Fulton Avenue School and graduated from Oceanside High School in 1969. Iger developed a love of books from a young age. In 1973, he graduated magna cum laude from the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Television and Radio.
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.
American Broadcasting Company (ABC)
In 1974, Iger joined the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). His first job was performing menial labor on television sets for $150 a week (over $700, adjusted for inflation).
In 1989, he was named head of ABC Entertainment. He served as 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. In 1994, Iger was named president and chief operating officer of ABC's corporate parent, Capital Cities/ABC.
The Walt Disney Company
In 1996, The Walt Disney Company purchased Capital Cities/ABC and renamed it ABC, Inc., where Iger remained president until 1999.
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.
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.
As a result of a successful effort by Roy E. Disney to shake up the management of the company, 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. 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. Prior to Iger being named CEO, board members Roy E. Disney and Stanley Gold began a campaign called "save Disney" against Eisner. In July 2005, Disney and Gold dropped the campaign and agreed to work with Iger.
On January 24, 2006, under Iger's leadership, Disney announced it would acquire Pixar for $7.4 billion in an all-stock transaction. 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.
Also in 2006, Roy E. Disney issued this statement regarding Iger:
Animation has always been the heart and soul of The Walt Disney Company, and it is wonderful to see Bob Iger and the company embraces 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.
In August 2009, Iger spearheaded negotiations that led Disney to acquire Marvel Entertainment and its associated assets for $4 billion. As of August 2014, Disney has recouped over $4 billion at the box office through the Marvel movies. 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. On Tuesday November 15, 2011, Apple, Inc., led by CEO Tim Cook, named Iger to its board of directors. Iger was responsible for making Steve Jobs Disney's largest shareholder by its acquisition of Pixar.
In October 2012, Iger signed a deal with film producer George Lucas to purchase Lucasfilm Ltd. for $4 billion following several months of negotiations. As a result, Disney acquired the rights to the Star Wars multimedia franchise and Indiana Jones. Following its release on December 18, 2015, Star Wars: The Force Awakens grossed over $2 billion at the box office. In March 2016, Iger announced that the $5.5 billion Shanghai Disney Resort would open its doors on June 16, 2016. In May 2016, Iger wrote in a Facebook post claiming that Disney has hired 11,000 new employees in the past decade at Disneyland, and 18,000 in the past decade. Iger specifically targeted Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders, asking him how much he has contributed to job growth.
Iger's contract as Disney's chairman and CEO was originally planned to run until June 30, 2018; however, in March 2017, Disney announced that it was extending Iger's term to July 2, 2019, and said he would serve as a consultant for the following three years. In December 2017, Disney extended Iger's contract through 2021.
In July 2018, under Iger's leadership, Disney and 21st Century Fox shareholders approved a deal to allow Disney to purchase Fox assets. The deal was finalized in March 2019.
In April 2019, it was announced that Iger will depart from his position as CEO and chairman of Disney when his contract expires in 2021. Iger resigned from Apple's board of directors on September 10, 2019, in order to avoid a conflict of interest as Disney and Apple prepare to launch competing streaming services Disney+ and Apple TV+.
In September 2019, Iger released a memoir titled The Ride of a Lifetime which, in part, focuses on Iger's years-long efforts to open Shanghai Disneyland Park; overall, he traveled to China 40 times over 18 years for the project.
On February 25, 2020, Iger stepped down from CEO of the company, stating “With the successful launch of Disney’s direct-to-consumer businesses and the integration of Twenty-First Century Fox well underway, I believe this is the optimal time to transition to a new CEO.”
Iger has been married twice. His first marriage to Kathleen Susan Iger ended in divorce. They have two daughters.
In 1995, Iger married journalist Willow Bay in an interfaith Jewish and Roman Catholic service in Bridgehampton, New York. They have two children: Robert Maxwell "Max" Iger (born 1998) and William Iger (born 2002).
Iger has been noted for his kindness. David Geffen said "I have never heard one person say a bad thing about him and I have never seen him be mean".
Iger co-chaired a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign on August 22, 2016. He was named to President-elect Trump's Strategic and Policy Forum on December 2, 2016. He resigned from Trump's Advisory Council on June 1, 2017 after Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement.
In 2016, Iger switched his party registration from Democratic to independent (no party affiliation).
Iger avoids all carbs, except pizza, which he seeks out everywhere in the world.
Accolades and recognition
In June 2012, Steven Spielberg, founder of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, presented Iger with the Ambassador for Humanity Award. Iger was recognized for his support of the Institute's work, his longtime philanthropy, and his leadership role in corporate citizenship. Iger was presented with The Milestone Award from the Producers Guild of America (PGA) in 2014. The award is the PGA's highest recognition for an individual or team who has made contributions to entertainment.
In May 2015, Iger was named to the 25th Annual Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame. In October 2015, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) inducted Iger into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame. He was selected by members of TIA in recognition of his contributions to the industry, and the impact his work has had on the lives of children worldwide.
In December 2019, Iger was named by Time as their Businessperson of the Year.
In 2019, Bloomberg reported that a whistleblower to the Securities and Exchange Commission claimed that in just one division of the company, Disney was inflating income by up to $6 billion. Disney claimed the whistleblower was fired for cause for making persistently false claims. The Securities and Exchange Commission declined to comment on the matter.
In 2018, Senator Bernie Sanders attacked Iger’s rich pay package, which Institutional Shareholder Services estimates could earn the executive as much as $423 million over the next four years if he hits all of his performance goals. Senator Sanders asked, "“Does Disney CEO Bob Iger have a good explanation for why he is being compensated more than $400 million while workers at Disneyland are homeless and relying on food stamps to feed their families?” At another campaign event, Senator Sanders cited Disney as Exhibit A in what he calls a “rigged economy.”
In 2017, ESPN President and Disney Media Networks Co-Chairman, John Skipper, told Iger about an extortionist that was threatening to reveal his decades long addiction to cocaine. Skipper admitted to putting Iger in an "untenable position." Skipper abruptly left his job after 27 years at Disney in the wake of the scandal. Nevertheless, Skipper claimed that "At ESPN I did not use at work, nor with anyone at work, or with anyone I did business with. I never allowed it to interfere with my work, other than a missed plane and a few canceled morning appointments."
Me Too Allegations
In 2019, Vanity Fair reported that actress Paz de la Huerta added Bob Iger to her lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein over allegations of rape, claiming 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..." Disney denied any knowledge of misconduct or settlements with victims during Weinstein’s run at Miramax from 1993 to 2005.
In 2018, The Wall Street Journal reported that Thomas Schumacher, president of Disney Theatrical Productions, had been accused of sexual misconduct and harassment. Two of his accusers, employees—Bruce Williams and Jane Buchanan—both worked at Disney under Schumacher, who at the time had been at the company for three decades as a producer and is currently at work on Disney’s upcoming Broadway adaptation of the animated movie Frozen. Both Williams and Buchanan eventually left Disney. Several former Disney employees backed up the claims from Williams and Buchanan, which span the 1990s and early 2000s, WSJ reported. Through an associate, Schumacher denied the allegations against him, according to WSJ, while a Disney spokesperson told the newspaper that “complaints are thoroughly investigated and appropriate action is taken” at the company.
Daily Variety reported that Bob Iger knew about a 2010 Oscar party where Pixar Chief, John Lasseter, was seen making out with a junior staffer. Sources told Variety that the executive’s behavior around young women has been known within the company since the 1990s. Variety quoted one anonymous source as saying, "“They’ve known for a long time,” the source said. “It has gone all the way to the top. I know personally that Bob was aware. … Everybody was aware. They just didn’t do anything about it.” Disney declined comment for the article. Further reported in the article is a quote from Amid Amidi, publisher of Cartoon Brew, that “This is not one guy going around acting inappropriately. This is one guy enabled by a massive corporate structure to act inappropriately.”