Every year, CNBC releases a list of their predictions in entertainment for the upcoming year. Last year’s article correctly predicted Bob Iger’s return to Disney as CEO. When this prediction came true just before Thanksgiving, it sent shockwaves through both the entertainment world and the Disney fan base.
This year’s predictions for Disney present some equally shocking (but practical) ideas, and most surround who Bob Iger will choose as his successor. The CEO returned under a two-year contract and with that a stipulation that during that time he choose the next leader of the Walt Disney Company. Ever since, the rumor mill has been abuzz with possible candidates but CNBC spoke with insiders who think they know who is most (and least) likely to be chosen.
Bob Iger chooses himself
It’s clear Iger had a hard time leaving Disney. He loves the company, loves the job, and has put his heart and soul into his work. It’s very possible, and CNBC thinks it even likely, that the once and current CEO will extend his contract rather than choosing a successor. Chapek likely left a bad taste in his mouth, and he is probably nervous (understandably so) to make another wrong choice. Iger built a strong legacy for himself at Disney and he won’t want that to be overshadowed by becoming the man who chooses bad CEO’s. CNBC predicts Iger could very well just refuse to choose a sucessor at this time and extend hus contract past 2024.
Once considered a frontrunner and shoe-in for the CEO position, Kevin Mayer was passed over for the job in favor of Bob Chapek. Mayer was Chairman of the Direct-to-Consumer branch at Disney and oversaw the launch Disney+ and ESPN+. With the streaming service currently at the forefront of Disney’s financial woes, it would make sense for Iger to tap someone intimately familiar with the platform (something Bob Chaoek was not). Additionally he was Chief Strategy Officer of Disney, and led the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and 21st Century Fox. Those are excellent qualifications to lead the largest media company in the world.
However, since his departure, he has founded a media company of his own, Candle Media. If you haven’t heard of it you’ve certainly heard of one of the intellectual properties it has acquired: Coco Melon. The popular toddler show would fit wonderfully on Disney+. It is possible, despite recent comments about not being focused on acquisitions at this time, that Disney could buy Candle Media and thus bring Mayer back into the fold. This would set him up to gracefully take on the role as CEO without walking away from his own creation.
Interestingly, despite being touted as the heir apparent, CNBC predicts McCarthy will be passed over as CEO. The current Disney CFO is said to have played a major role in the ousting of Bob Chapek and has a very good working relationship with Bob Iger which makes CNBC’s prediction surprising but not unwelcome. McCarthy is already disliked by the fans for comments she made about Guests needing to reduce their portion sizes and if Disney has learned anything from. The past two years, it’s that being liked by fans isn’t a job requirement but it certainly helps.
An industry insider predicted that McCarthy will, instead, leave the company in 2023. The article explains, “But this executive said McCarthy, 67, was more likely to leave Disney in 2023 than move on to CEO. While McCarthy turned on Chapek, she also was part of his inner circle for years. Iger may view that suspiciously, given his litany of differences with Chapek, even though McCarthy also served as Iger’s CFO from 2015 to 2020.”
Will any of these predictions prove as scarily accurate as the unlikely return of Bob Iger? That remains to be seen. One thing is for sure though, as Iger’s restructuring continues and the drama of who will be the next CEO unfolds, 2023 is ging to be a heck of a ride!