Bob Iger has one really, really important thing left to do

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Bob Iger has one really, really important thing left to do
Bob Iger won an important proxy vote against Nelson Peltz, but. he's still got one really important thing on his to-do list.Drew Angerer/Getty Images; AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images; Joe Raedle/Getty Images; Chelsea Jia Feng/BI
  • Bob Iger seems to have convinced investors that he's really turning Disney around.
  • But he won't get a final grade until he does the one thing he's been very bad at — finding a successor.
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OK, Bob Iger. You won.

So, after your proxy-battle victory over Nelson Peltz and his Trian Partners fund, what's next?

Maybe less than you think.

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That's in part because the Disney CEO has already spent a lot of time and energy responding to Peltz and trying to demonstrate to investors that he's righting the ship.

That's included companywide cost cutting, in part through significant layoffs; turning streaming from a money pit into a business that's supposed to turn a profit very soon; and new ventures that could help the company grow, like sports-streaming launches and a tie-up with the "Fortnite" maker Epic Games.

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And Wall Street has very much liked what Iger has done. Disney stock is up 35% this year alone.

"We've turned the corner," Iger told shareholders Wednesday in a prerecorded message.

But Peltz's most effective argument — one that even people inside the company acknowledge — is that Iger and the board have done a miserable job of finding an Iger replacement. Those struggles — including his regret over the one replacement he did settle on before coming back to replace him in 2022 — have been well documented.

Now, after multiple false starts, Iger is promising to finally get it right this time. He promises that he'll have someone ready to go when he leaves — for good, he insists — at the end of 2026.

Assessing that progress will be just about impossible from the outside, though. Disney has made it clear that it's considering internal candidates, like Disney Entertainment's cochair Dana Walden and ESPN CEO Jimmy Pitaro. And there's still the possibility that it could pluck someone from outside the company.

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But good luck trying to figure out how that's going until Iger clears his throat and makes a pronouncement.

Which means we won't really know if Iger has finally turned the corner, for good, for some time to come. How long will investors' patience last?

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