In a move that may have been designed to reassure shareholders, Walt Disney CEO Michael Eisner has announced that he will retire from the company when his contract ends in 2006.
A CBS Marketwatch article suggests that there are a number of contenders for successor. One contender for the top position is Pixar and Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
Calls for Jobs to take on the helm at Disney go back as far as last December when the New York Post reported: "As far as the entertainment industry and Wall Street would be concerned, the most welcome second-in-charge and nominal successor to current Disney CEO Michael Eisner could be none other than Steve Jobs – head of Apple and Pixar, and the guy who currently has Disney over one massive barrel."
Then in January 2004 Jobs broke off the distribution agreement between Pixar and Disney that had seen the two companies working together to deliver such films as Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo.
Eisner received criticism following this news. Fund manager Thomas Wyman said: "This is another example of Michael Eisner dropping the ball. I think they got a little too rough with Steve Jobs in negotiation."
Calls for Eisners resignation have been long running. Last year, Walt Disney's nephew, Roy Disney, and his fellow shareholder, Stanley Gold, resigned as directors of Disney and launched a well publicized board revolt against Eisner.
Some of this pressure lead Eisner to step down as chairman at a Disney shareholder meeting last March. However he kept his CEO title.
According to the CBS report, many observers are clamouring for Eisner to step down at the company's next annual meeting, early in 2005, so whether he remains at the company until 2006 remains to be seen.