Thomas Staggs, Disney COO, leaving the company

Posted Monday, April 4, 2016 7:29 PM | Contributed by GoBucks89

Thomas O. Staggs, the favored contender to lead Disney after Robert A. Iger’s retirement, is making a surprise exit from the company, throwing succession into disorder. His departure will also be an internal distraction as Disney prepares to unveil Shanghai Disneyland, a crucial project that Mr. Staggs had helped guide.

Read more from The New York Times.

Monday, April 4, 2016 7:35 PM
Jeff's avatar

The next CEO has a pretty impossible task in terms of keeping the company on record results. Iger's strategy seemed pretty straight forward, to acquire the best possible IP companies (Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar), reinvent the internal creative efforts (Disney Animation, theme parks), then keep the quality of both high. Keeping the quality high is certainly part of a strategy going forward, but I don't imagine that acquisition will play as prominently going forward.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016 1:12 AM

May I present to you the Shanghai scapegoat.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016 1:33 AM

My guess: Shanghai's Screwed,Tom will stay on as special adviser focused on it only. Iger may extend beyond 2018.

Much like Sebelius and the Obamacare website, this is his to fix, and he's the best to do it, but it was so screwed up that it killed his succession to the top spot.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016 8:10 AM

I'm confused. I thought the poor, defenseless, underpaid employees in Anaheim and Orlando were the Shanghai scapegoats?


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Tuesday, April 5, 2016 9:01 AM

CreditWh0re said:

My guess: Shanghai's Screwed,Tom will stay on as special adviser focused on it only. Iger may extend beyond 2018.

Much like Sebelius and the Obamacare website, this is his to fix, and he's the best to do it, but it was so screwed up that it killed his succession to the top spot.

I'm not sure about the bolded. Reading between some lines, it sounds like the Board may be ready to move the managing dynamic back towards the creative side, and I think Iger has other ambitions and things that take more time than he has to devote while being at Disney. Of course, that's just my take on reading into some things, probably more than I should be, but there you go.

EDIT: Doesn't seem to have bolded "Iger may extend beyond 2018." My expectation right now is they'll be looking at outsiders.

Last edited by maXairMike, Tuesday, April 5, 2016 9:02 AM

Original BlueStreak64

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016 9:11 AM
birdhombre's avatar

If you're using Chrome, bold text is barely discernible on CBuzz for some reason. If you look very carefully, it's slightly darker than the surrounding text.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016 11:34 AM

I think it's quite obvious what Iger wants to do post 2018 (e.g 2024), but he may offer to stay past his announced 2018 date in the interest of a soft landing for his successor. I don't mean my original comment to imply that Iger is wanting to stay, a la Eisner, but that he may be inclined/obligated to.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop. The heir apparent to one of the largest corporations in the world doesn't just step aside, and yet hang on for months unless there is something big for them to still do at the company. Normally these are "wish them well in their endeavors" or " spend time with his family" situations, which is not the case here. If someone gets turned down for the #1 spot, they don't hang around to be reminded of it every day. That reinforces my opinion that it's about Shanghai and the Company is finally about to admit how screwed up it is, and what the plan is to rectify it.

Last edited by CreditWh0re, Tuesday, April 5, 2016 11:36 AM
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Tuesday, April 5, 2016 11:39 AM
Vater's avatar

birdhombre said:

If you're using Chrome, bold text is barely discernible on CBuzz for some reason. If you look very carefully, it's slightly darker than the surrounding text.

Looks fine to me:

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016 11:47 AM

Most already believe that iger's original extension to 2018 was based on him not wanting to leave before Shanghai was openeed and established . The delayed opening of that park has already been a blot on his copy book, and that is before any full admission of the status of the project with less than 100 days to opening.

At this point they will most certainly have to look at outsiders, as Rasulo left last year. Given the issues at ESPN that will require significant attention, the board will be hard pressed to move up someone from inside after the long grooming that Staggs was given. There simply isn't anyone inside at the moment . Thus the board will have to go outside, and that will take some time. other than the already mentioned Sandberg, I'm not sure there is an obvious name. Whoever it is will be inheriting a world of downside, as Jeff laid out in his post above.

Last edited by CreditWh0re, Tuesday, April 5, 2016 11:50 AM
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Tuesday, April 5, 2016 12:05 PM

I would be remiss if I didn't mention Kathleen Kennedy as a potential internal name. Talented and an exceptional leader, but I'm not sure her background would suit for the top spot, nor would she want it. She certainly has her hands full with Lucasfilm for the next few years.

Last edited by CreditWh0re, Tuesday, April 5, 2016 12:09 PM
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Tuesday, April 5, 2016 12:43 PM
Jeff's avatar

The NGE project over-spend would rest squarely on Staggs as well, so I'm not sure why anyone would be super surprised if a new park ended up going overboard. Come to think of it, that's likely true for any new project in history. I'm not sure the boss matters.

Here's the thing, CEO's tend to be stronger visionaries than operators. I'm not saying there aren't exceptions, but it's generally the case. The COO's tend to be the opposite, better operators than visionaries, good at execution. That's been my concern with Apple since Steve Jobs died, because Steve was the visionary, Tim Cook the operator. Now the operator is in charge... who leads the vision? Momentum may carry them for another few years, but if there isn't something face-meltingly awesome in the pipe now, the company will look very different in a few years. I don't know how well Disney would do having someone more in the "O" column and not the "V" at the top.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016 1:59 PM

As I mentioned, I'm waiting for the other shoe. A company like Disney doesn't just spring this on the investment community unless the alternatives were worse. We all know Disney's communications are planned reviewed approved by committee and over processed. To have this fall out on a Monday evening is way out of the ordinary. To say that Wall Street analysts are bewildered is an understatement and if it's one thing they don't like it is surprises.

Thus there must be something else yet to come, and I can only imagine it's Shanghai. perhaps the board got the latest update and went "WTF?" Maybe someone else added up NextGen and Shanghai and cornered Eiger?

From all accounts Staggs isn't an idiot and appeared to be well liked. Could just be a good numbers guy but not a good operator. Either way, I'm very curious to see what he does from now through May, and then afterwards in his "special advisor" role.

Last edited by CreditWh0re, Tuesday, April 5, 2016 2:07 PM
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Tuesday, April 5, 2016 3:38 PM

If Staggs made the decision yesterday to leave, Disney really didn't have a choice in terms of going public with the info. From what I have seen, he went to the board and asked for assurance that he would be the next CEO. That assurance wasn't provided and so he decided to move on. May not be what happened (or at least not complete truth of it) but if that is what happened, what choice did Disney have in terms of going to the investment community?

And companies often wait until after the close of trading to announce that which is expected to be viewed as a negative.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016 4:31 PM
Jeff's avatar

Yeah, I don't imagine that it's any more complicated than that. The press keeps painting this as "CEO succession decimated" or some other such nonsense, but I thought the company has been careful to indicate that just because they put him in the COO spot didn't mean he was the heir. And as for Shanghai, that seems too inside baseball to me. They've sold tickets for a set opening day, and no one figured out last week, "Gosh, this sure took longer and was more expensive than we expected!"


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016 4:35 PM

rhe markets close at 1 pm West Cosst time. Not unusual for any news to be held until that time. What you've said sounds plausible..... Except for the hanging around part. If you've been groomed for something for years and then you don't get it...you leave, you don't hang around like a cuckolded husband. And if the board had doubts, and they told him that, again, not necessarily something that comes out in the manner it did. There would have been the "Tom, I value you and your contributions, let's work on a soft landing and smooth departure........" You don't just announce he's leaving with no backup plan. That's not the way Disney or other global billion dollar companies work. Not because of any loyalty to someone who fails to achieve, but simply because such news in such a fashion impacts the stock price and creates uncertainty in the markets.

Last edited by CreditWh0re, Tuesday, April 5, 2016 4:39 PM
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Tuesday, April 5, 2016 4:52 PM

Jeff said:
Yeah, I don't imagine that it's any more complicated than that...... They've sold tickets for a set opening day, and no one figured out last week, "Gosh, this sure took longer and was more expensive than we expected!"

But what if the park isn't ready to open en toto, and parts/sections are walled off? Attractions unavailable, etc?

We'll know soon enough. Again, it could be as basic as you two describe, and yes if it played out that simply Disney would have to make a statement. However, the board withholding assurances wouldn't be a disclosable event (8K), and it really seems odd that it would be an act of pique for him to quit in this manner, if he had intentions of working anywhere after fact. It reflects poorly on judgement and temperament, two things potential leaders need to demonstrate (Donald Trump notwithstanding)'

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016 8:19 AM
Jeff's avatar

The LA Times sources suggest that Staggs doesn't play nice with others and that people bypass him to talk to Iger. They seemed pretty convinced that this is about personality.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016 9:02 AM
birdhombre's avatar

Vater said:
Looks fine to me:

Pardon my thread hijack, but just for completeness' sake, here's how it looks on the Mac version of Chrome:

vs. Safari:

Last edited by birdhombre, Wednesday, April 6, 2016 9:04 AM
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Wednesday, April 6, 2016 9:33 AM
Jeff's avatar

Noted. Use italics next time. ;)


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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