The CEO Of Disney Was Just Abruptly Replaced

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Disney has removed Bob Chapek as CEO and replaced him with former head, Bob Iger.

By Charlene Badasie
| Published

The Walt Disney Company has re-appointed Bob Iger as Chief Executive Officer. Bob Chapek, who replaced him as the firm’s CEO in 2020 is stepping down immediately. “I am deeply honored to be asked to again lead this remarkable team, with a clear mission focused on creative excellence to inspire generations through unrivaled, bold storytelling,” he wrote in an email to staff via Deadline.

Disney’s dramatic decision comes 11 months after Bob Iger left his role as executive chairman and days after Chapek said he planned to cut costs. Still, the company’s earnings underperformed Wall Street’s expectations earlier this month, while its streaming service has been burdened with increasing costs. Even its theme parks, which reported a revenue boost, performed below analysts’ expectations, CNBC reports. The company’s shares have also lost about 40% in 2022 to date.

Speaking about the re-appointment, Board Chair Susan Arnold said Disney concluded that, as it embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely situated to lead the company through this pivotal period. She also thanked Chapek for his service to the company over his long career, including navigating the entertainment giant through the unprecedented challenges of Covid-19.

Although Bob Chapek guided the company through the pandemic, his tenure as CEO has been filled with turmoil. The 62-year-old, who served as chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products before taking over from Bob Iger, found himself dealing with Scarlett Johansson’s pay dispute. He also had to navigate the company’s battles with Florida and its own employees, regarding the state’s controversial bill restricting some LGBTQ topics in the classroom.

Now, after coming under fire for his management of the company, Disney decided that its future was in better hands with Bob Iger. The latter will be CEO for the next two years. In that time, his mission will include identifying a successor which he had difficulty doing during his previous 15 years in the top job. “Mr. Iger has the deep respect of Disney’s senior leadership team,” Arnold added. He is also admired by Disney employees worldwide, all of which will allow for a seamless transition of leadership.

At Disney, Bob Iger has an almost mythical status as he was instrumental in acquiring major brands like Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. He also closed the $71 billion deal to buy most of 21st Century Fox and kicked off its streaming revolution with the creation of Disney+ in November 2019. According to the press release, the position of Chairman of the Board remains unchanged, with Ms. Arnold serving in that capacity.

Still, the news came as a shock to even the most senior Disney executives, industry sources told Variety. According to the publication, employees were alerted to the news by the corporate communications team’s press release. Their first reaction was disbelief, with some thinking it was an elaborate hoax or some kind of phishing scam. The shock was even greater as the news was confirmed. Meanwhile, Disney stock jumped 8% in pre-market trading to $91.80 per share in response to Bob Iger’s stunning reinstatement.