10 Things You Didn’t Know About Disney CEO Bob Iger

Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit - Day 2

For people who are unfamiliar with his name, Bob Iger is the current CEO of Disney, which in turn, means that he is the head of a multi-billion corporation that has a significant presence in countries situated all around the world. Under him, Disney has gone from success to success, thus building up Iger’s reputation at the same time. As a result, it is no wonder that he has won a number of awards and other accolades, which serve to illustrate his importance in his chosen industry. At the moment, he remains at the head of Disney, where he continues to lead it in a prosperous direction by all indications, meaning that there is still more to come. Something that should excite those who are interested in what Disney is doing as well as what the CEO of Disney is doing.

Here are 10 things that you may or may not know about Bob Iger:

1. Wanted to Be a News Anchor

At one point, Iger wanted to be a news anchor. This is supported by how he chose to study Television & Radio at the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College, where he actually served as the news anchor of “Campus Probe,” which was an Ithaca College TV show. However, his plans for his future began to change after he had graduated. In Ithaca, he worked as a weatherman for a total of 5 months before he made a jump that would change the course of his career forever.

2. Started Out At ABC

Given his background in Television & Radio, it should come as no surprise to learn that Iger started out at ABC rather than Disney. However, when he joined up with ABC in 1974, it was still separate from Disney at the time. Over the course of years, Iger made a slow but steady climb through the ranks of ABC and then ABC’s corporate parent, Capital Cities, becoming President of ABC, Senior Vice President of Capital Cities, and Executive Vice President of Capital Cities. When Disney bought out Capital Cities, Iger was a natural choice for the President of ABC, where he would remain until 1999.

3. Some Suspected His Appointment to Disney to Be a Demotion

Eventually, Iger was transferred from ABC to serve as the President of Walt Disney International, which oversaw all of the media titan’s operations in other countries. At the time, some suspected that it was a demotion of sorts because it was taking Iger away from overseeing ABC, which had been struggling for some time. However, considering the importance of Walt Disney International, that seems like a strange if not necessarily incorrect conclusion.

4. Rose to the Top Because of the Save Disney Campaign

At one point, Disney was in serious trouble, so much so that Roy Disney as well as a number of his supporters actually launched a Save Disney campaign in order to oust Michael Eisner, who was both the CEO and the Chairman of the Board of Disney at the time. Surprisingly, the Save Disney campaign managed to oust Eisner from his position as the Chairman of the Board but left him in his position as the CEO. However, the tensions remained, which is why Eisner eventually chose to step down in lieu of fighting and opened the way for his lieutenant, Iger, to step into his position.

5. Repaired Relationship with Pixar

One of the main reasons behind the Save Disney campaign was Eisner’s dissatisfaction with Pixar Animation Studios, which was rather strange because the two companies had collaborated to create a number of successful franchises, ranging from Finding Nemo to Toy Story. This was one of the first problems that Iger solved upon his ascension to CEO of Disney. In fact, he and other like-minded people actually arranged for Pixar to be taken over by Disney shortly after, which was relatively friendly in nature because in exchange, they provided the people behind Pixar with significant influence in Disney. For example, Steve Jobs, who had co-founded Pixar, became not just a member of Disney’s Board of Directors but also its single biggest shareholder with 7 percent of all its shares at the time.

6. Reacquired Walt Disney’s First Star

Iger was responsible for buying back the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Although the character is not particularly well-known in modern times, it was nonetheless Walt Disney’s first star, which had been created while he had still been working with Universal Studios. In exchange for this deal, Iger had to release the sportscaster Al Michaels from ABC Sports to NBC Sports. Since that time, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit has been making more and more appearances at Disney.

7. Bought Out Marvel Entertainment

In 2009, Iger spearheaded Disney’s efforts to buy out Marvel Entertainment for more than $4 billion. So far, the media titan has maintained a light hand on its subsidiary, which in turn, has proven to be a successful course of action. After all, Disney has benefited a great deal from the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as related projects such as the incorporation of Marvel characters into Disney attractions. All in all, the Disney buy-out of Marvel Entertainment was a good move, particularly it had happened before the Marvel Cinematic Universe had really started taking off.

8. Bought Out Lucasfilm

In 2012, Iger at the head of Disney bought out Lucasfilm for about $4 billion after spending several months in negotiation with George Lucas, the man behind both Star Wars and Indiana Jones. As a result, Disney gained control over both of those franchises, which it soon put to good use by announcing the creation of new movies set in the Star Wars setting. The first movie in a planned trilogy, The Force Awakens, has already come out to significant commercial success, while a stand-alone movie, Rogue One, is scheduled for release sometime soon in the future.

9. Focuses on International Expansion, Technological Innovation, and Traditional Animation

Under Iger, Disney’s strategic focus has been on three things, which can be summed up as international expansion, technological innovation, and traditional animation. In short, he believes that Disney should not neglect the arts that have created the foundations of its success, but at the same time, should not avert its eyes from the technological progress that is been made in the industry on a constant basis. By making its animation better and better, Disney can capitalize more and more on international markets, which have the same appetite for its works as its domestic market. For a prime example of Disney’s efforts in international markets, look no further than the opening of a Disney theme park in Shanghai, which is in a prime position to capitalize on the absolutely enormous Chinese market, which has been a holy grail of sorts for many international corporations in recent decades because of its economic potential.

10. Is a Member of the Toy Industry Hall of Fame

Unsurprisingly, Iger has won awards and other accolades for both his work in a professional capacity and his work in a personal capacity. However, one of the most interesting of these accolades in his status as a member of the Toy Industry Hall of Fame, which was awarded to him in 2015. While this can seem a bit strange considering where he started as well as where he was focused, his impact on not just toys but also the children who are most interested in those toys is undeniable, which is why the members of the Toy Industry Association did not hesitate to award him the position through their votes. As he continues in his role as the head of Disney, it seems probable that Iger will continue affecting the toy industry in a positive manner.


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