The list of who could run Disney in place of Bob Iger is shockingly short. The job of running a multi-tiered, highly diversified global entertainment company requires a rare mix of fiscal discipline, risk-taking and artistic creativity. Here's who might be up for it.
The COO of Facebook would need a big inducement to leave her stock package behind, but Sandberg – who brought her kids to the “Star Wars” premiere – might be ready for a change. Having suddenly lost her husband last year, she might be ready for a move from Silicon Valley. And having sat on the Disney board since 2009, she knows the company well. She has the rare combination of strong interpersonal skills, creative thinking and management discipline that the Disney job requires.
The CEO and President of NBCUniversal may be the most qualified person to take the reins from Bob Iger. He runs a media company that like Disney has a film unit, a tv network and a theme park. And at 57, he's young enough to take the gig. Only problem is: he already runs a global entertainment company, why switch?
Already the CEO of two public companies, Square and Twitter, Dorsey is a Disney board member with a flair for creative thinking, risk-taking and a take-no-prisoners attitude to innovation. Is he too young and untested for a gig like this? Wall Street will probably think so. But he’d be a ballsy choice, and it would give Dorsey a chance to leverage all he knows about social media with online commerce against the storied brand.
The former chief of ABC left Disney after learning she wouldn’t get the top job, but that doesn’t mean she should be counted out. She’s a formidable executive, with deep knowledge of the company’s culture. Downside? She said she wanted to direct.
Rupert Murdoch's former No. 2 left News Corp. because he knew he’d never have the top job. He has a superb combination of experience running a global media company, taking big risks with technology investments (even if MySpace didn’t work out so well) and hiring excellent executives for entertainment divisions that mirror many – though not all – of Disney’s. Chernin’s age, 64, argues against him, and God knows he’s making plenty of money through his movie-producing gigs and his investment vehicle, The Chernin Group. But he's a strong contender in a very limited field.
Carey is a candidate similar to Chernin but without his former colleague’s flair. He is known as a top operator rather than a risk-taker. That said, he has rare experience running a global media company in the digital age. Did we say Hulu?
The President of Lucasfilm, creator of Disney-owned “Star Wars,” is hugely respected by the film industry and well-liked within Disney. Kennedy has no experience running a multi-billion-dollar media company, but she successfully relaunched Disney’s most exciting film franchise and worked with Steven Spielberg on “E.T.,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Jurassic Park.”
The founder of Netflix is an unlikely choice to run Disney, but think about it: His company has arisen as the most formidable challenger to traditional movie companies. And as ESPN subscription numbers show, streaming is Disney’s greatest weakness. Hastings can run a multi-billion-dollar company, and in fact he already does.
The CEO of LinkedIn is a former Warner Bros. executive who has grown up to be one of the most exciting business leaders in America. His maturation as a leader is all the more impressive because he did it in the harsh glare of a tech bubble. Weiner successfully took the professional social network public and might well be ready to take all he learned in Silicon Valley to Hollywood. They’d be lucky to have him.
The president will be available and open for job offers starting in January 2017, coincidentally just months before Bob Iger needs to bow out, stage left. Would the president be interested in living in California? Joining the private sector? Running the Magic Kingdom? It would be just the kind of challenge that the “no drama” leader of the free world might find to his liking after the rough treatment he received in the White House.