Rich Ross, chairman of the Walt Disney Studios has parted ways with the Walt Disney Company. He saw most success at the Disney Channel where he oversaw the Highschool Musical franchise and is responsible for kick starting the trend of focusing on television for the tween market. This led to shows like Hannah Montana, Lizzie McGuire, Wizards of Waverly Place, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and The Suite Life on Deck, That’s So Raven and Phineas and Ferb.
Success didn’t follow him when he was promoted to chairman of the Walt Disney Studios in 2009 however. Where at the Disney Channel he was known for his hits, his misses were what were more notable at the Walt Disney Studios. These misses included Mars Needs Moms, Prom, and most recently John Carter. The last had a $200 million write down and surely holds some responsibility for his departure.
In an email sent to employees Ross said, “I believe in our strong slate of films and our ability to make and market them better than anyone else,” he wrote. “But, I no longer believe the chairman role is the right professional fit for me.”
Rich Ross had this to say on his departure:
For the last 15 years, I have had the opportunity to work with incredibly talented people on behalf of the world’s best loved brand. During that time, we’ve told some amazing stories around the world, created successful TV programming, movies, and franchises that generated new opportunities for the company in the process.
I’ve always said our success is created and driven by our people – whom I consider to be the absolute best in the business. But, the best people need to be in the right jobs, in roles they are passionate about, doing work that leverages the full range of their abilities. It’s one of the leadership lessons I’ve learned during my career, and it’s something I’ve been giving a great deal of thought to as I look at the challenges and opportunities ahead.
I believe in this extraordinary Walt Disney Studios team, and I believe in our strong slate of films and our ability to make and market them better than anyone else. But, I no longer believe the Chairman role is the right professional fit for me. For that reason, I have made the very difficult decision to step down as Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, effective today.
It has been my honor to work with such incredible teams – at Disney Channels Worldwide and The Walt Disney Studios and the many other Disney businesses I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with. I know I leave the Studios in good hands and, even on separate paths, I am confident we are all destined for continued success.
Bob Iger released the following statement:
For more than a decade, Rich Ross’s creative instincts, business acumen and personal integrity have driven results in key businesses for Disney, redefining success in kids and family entertainment and launching franchises that generate value across our entire company. His vision and leadership opened doors for Disney around the world, making our brand part of daily life for millions of people. I appreciate his countless contributions throughout his entire career at Disney, and expect he will have tremendous success in whatever he chooses to do next.
Rich Ross first came to the Walt Disney Company in 1996. Before he had worked both at Nickelodion, Nickelodeon UK, and the FX Networks. With the last two, he helped get them both up and off the ground. When he moved to Disney in 1996 he was a part of the Disney Channel. For over eight years with the Disney Channel he saw success. His move to the Walt Disney Studios changed this trend in 2009.
It currently is unknown who will become the new Chairman of the Walt Disney Studios. Possible candidates that are rumored to be floating around include Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios; and Stacey Snider, chief executive and co-owner of DreamWorks Studios. It could take some time for a replacement to be found.