The Future of Disney: Bob Iger Taps Former Executives as Consultants

The Future of Disney: Bob Iger Taps Former Executives as Consultants

Disney CEO Bob Iger is feeling the pressure as he looks to define the future strategy of the media giant. To assist in this task, he has brought on board two former top Disney executives, Tom Staggs and Kevin Mayer, as consultants. The two will primarily focus on evaluating ESPN, but with their extensive experience in and outside of Disney, it’s likely they will provide insights across other areas of the company as well.

Staggs and Mayer currently serve as co-CEOs of Candle Media, a company they founded in 2021 with support from the Blackstone Group. The exact details of their roles as consultants for Disney have not been disclosed. However, their involvement suggests that Iger is seeking a fresh perspective on ESPN and other aspects of the company’s operations.

An Uncertain Future for Linear Television

In a recent interview with CNBC, Iger made a surprising statement, suggesting that linear television may not be a core part of Disney’s business. While he acknowledged the significance of sports in the TV landscape, he emphasized that Disney is exploring various strategic options for linear TV, including those involving ESPN. This statement implies that Disney is considering a shift in its approach to television and may be exploring new ways of delivering content to consumers.

Both Staggs and Mayer had successful tenures at Disney before venturing into their current roles. Staggs, well-liked within the company, held positions such as chief financial officer, chief operating officer, and head of parks. Many expected him to ascend to the top job at Disney once Iger stepped down, but he ultimately left the company in 2016.

Mayer, on the other hand, started in strategy planning and eventually led Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international operations. He played a crucial role in the launch of Disney+, which has garnered significant success. Despite being considered a top candidate for the CEO position, Iger surprised everyone by appointing Bob Chapek as his successor in 2020. Mayer then became the CEO of TikTok but left amid legal challenges from the Trump administration.

The Rise of Candle Media

Staggs and Mayer, who have a long history of friendship and collaboration, established Candle Media. Over the past few years, they have accumulated an impressive portfolio of content, including Hello Sunshine and Moonbug. Their expertise and network in the entertainment industry make them valuable assets in guiding Disney’s future strategy.

Since the news of Staggs and Mayer joining as consultants broke, Disney stock has experienced a 3.10% increase in late morning trading, outperforming the broader market. This positive response from investors reflects the confidence they have in the abilities of Staggs and Mayer to contribute to Disney’s growth and success.

While Iger recently extended his contract, he still needs to appoint a successor as CEO and find a new CFO following the unexpected departure of Christine McCarthy. Wall Street has frequently mentioned Staggs and Mayer as potential replacements for Chapek, especially during a period of underperformance. However, it remains uncertain whether their advisory roles will lead to broader positions within Disney.

Disney is at a crucial juncture as it navigates the future of its business. By enlisting the expertise of former executives Staggs and Mayer, Iger hopes to gain valuable insights and guidance. The outcomes of their evaluation of ESPN and their broader contributions to Disney’s strategy will shape the company’s trajectory in the rapidly evolving media landscape.


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