Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg rumored to be in running for Disney CEO

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For the Walt Disney Company — just like Washington —a 2016 event is beginning to shape up.

But in Disney’s case, the race is for the succession of outgoing CEO Bob Iger, a race that is two-years away, and just as unpredictable as any White House forecast.

One name mentioned for the top spot for the Mouse House — billionaire Facebook Chief Operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.

“The job is the most coveted role in all of media,” one inside source told Claire Atkinson of the New York Post. “People are angling early on.”

With Tuesday’s announcement that she is departing, Disney TV head Anne Sweeney is now out of the running. Not seen as a strong contender for the job could be one reason why she is departing.

The 44-year-old Sandberg — who sits on the Disney board — has expressed interest in the role, according to Atkinson, and she does have leadership skills, a good grasp of the digital realm and understands the balance between marketing, advertising and content.

As Sandberg launches her “Lean In” initiative on leadership in women, rumors of taking the reins at Disney are coming at the perfect time.

Wall Street forecasters say the Disney prize will go to either CFO James “Jay” Rasulo, or Parks Division chief Thomas Staggs. Conventional wisdom puts the lead with Staggs.

Some sources tell the Post that Staggs was a positive influence on the parks, primarily by introducing the $ 1 billion MyMagic+ technology, featuring a wristband with visitor information to help direct traffic flow.

But other industry observers say the Disney board wants to go slightly beyond the obvious picks. “They’re not happy with the two main choices,” another source said.

It is still up for debate if Sandberg would want to take part in the Disney succession process. She seems to have soured on politics, but there is also talk of a cabinet post if Hilary Clinton was to win a 2016 bid for the White House.

Sandberg may also believe it is time to emerge from Facebook, now that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has reached the second anniversary of the company’s initially difficult IPO.

Zuckerberg recently spent $19 billion on WhatsApp, leading to “a lot of goofy tech guys there now,” according to one source. It could be the right time for Sandberg to make a change. 

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.