Disney’s No. 2 exec, Thomas Staggs, is leaving the company

Tom Staggs leaves Disney

In a move that has pretty much surprised everyone, Thomas Staggs, the likely successor to Disney chairman and CEO Robert Iger, has announced that he is leaving the world’s largest entertainment company.

Disney announced the departure on Monday.

Disney said Staggs would step down as its chief operating officer early next month.

Staggs, 55, was largely seen as Iger’s successor, but he came under increased scrutiny by the company’s board of directors in regards to whether or not he had the skills required to maintain Disney’s creative momentum.

Disney has tended to choose chief executives from within, but the board may now be forced to look outside of the company for a successor to Mr. Iger, who has led Disney to record-breaking results.

“Tom has been a great friend and trusted colleague for more than 20 years,” Mr. Iger said in a statement.

“He’s made important contributions to this company, earning wide respect across the organization for his achievements and personal integrity. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together, immensely grateful for the privilege of working with him, and confident that he will be enormously successful in whatever opportunity he chooses.”

It was only last year that Staggs was promoted to chief operating officer from his previous role as theme park chairman.

Staggs has not released a statement of his own at this time.