On Monday Thomas Staggs, COO of Walt Disney Company, unexpectedly said he was leaving the company. Staggs had been anointed successor to Bob Iger, chairman/CEO of Walt Disney, since Staggs ascended to the COO post in February 2015.
Many speculate Staggs may have lacked the “creative” expertise to run a large media company; that he was more of good manager. Before he was COO, Staggs ran Disney’s parks and resorts business, as well as having a post as chief financial officer of the company.
Still others disagreed with this assessment, noting that Staggs had been deeply involved in the creative process at Disney’s theme parks/resorts, for example. He did participate in developing the big “Avatar- added experience at Disney World.
Whoever comes after Iger, he will have a some big shoes to fill. Iger, who has been at the top Disney job since 2005, was instrumental in buying up major film studios/content providers in his tenure, including Pixar Animation Studios (2006), Marvel Entertainment (2009) and Lucasfilm (2012).
And then in 2014, Disney spent $500 million to buy Maker Studios, which produces videos for YouTube, which has yet to see a big pay-off.
Mind you, at the time, many of the mega-billion-dollar studio deals were called into question by stock market analysts. But in large part these deals made sense, since content was always valued at a high level.
It is said Iger was looking to “control” content/situations. At the same time Iger has said one needs to be “fearless” for operating a big media company such as Disney.
So forget about not being creative enough to take on the chief executive role at Disney. The next Disney topper needs to look the media marketplace in the eye, and not blink when making big deals. It may take guts more than anything else.