Fans of Bob Iger, or haters of Bob Chapek, today is your day. Bob Iger is returning to the Walt Disney Company as CEO, replacing Bob Chapek just months after he was given a three year extension. The Walt Disney Company stock price is at a nearly 10 year low. This surprise return, announced by Bob Iger himself to cast members, is certainly not something we expected to happen, especially this soon.
Bob Chapek was promoted to CEO of the Walt Disney Company during a hectic time for all of the tourism industry, amidst the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. While he began on shaky ground, Iger was there to offer Chapek advice and a helping hand as he rose from head of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products to CEO of the world’s biggest entertainment company. Now, originally sent out as an email to cast members, Bob Iger himself confirmed his return.
Chapek, while originally quite a lucrative producer for stock holders, has generally been disliked by those amongst the Disney super fans online. But, his personal talks to media left those closer to him assured of a longstanding plan.
Many have been wondering about Disney’s position going forward, as Disney stock continued to fall while competitors Comcast (parent company of NBC Universal) and SeaWorld continued to climb. This certainly shows a strong shake-up within The Walt Disney Company, just days after Chapek himself announced major plans for layoffs and hiring freezes. An official announcement from Disney reads:
The Walt Disney Company announced today that Robert A. Iger is returning to lead Disney as Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Mr. Iger, who spent more than four decades at the Company, including 15 years as its CEO, has agreed to serve as Disney’s CEO for two years, with a mandate from the Board to set the strategic direction for renewed growth and to work closely with the Board in developing a successor to lead the Company at the completion of his term. Mr. Iger succeeds Bob Chapek, who has stepped down from his position.
“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” said Susan Amold, Chairman of the Board. “The Board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation. Bob Iger is uniquely situated to lead the company through this pivotal period.”
And, the email sent from Bob Iger himself to Disney cast members reads as follows:
Dear Fellow Employees and Cast Members,
It is with an incredible sense of gratitude and humility—and, I must admit, a bit of amazement—that I write to you this evening with the news that I am returning to The Walt Disney Company as Chief Executive Officer.
When I look at the creative success of our teams across our Studios, Disney General Entertainment, ESPN and International, the rapid growth of our streaming services, the phenomenal reimagining and rebound of our Parks, the continued great work of ABC News, and so many other achievements across our businesses, I am in awe of your accomplishments and I am excited to embark with you on many new endeavors.
I know this company has asked so much of you during the past three years, and these times certainly remain quite challenging, but as you have heard me say before, I am an optimist, and if I learned one thing from my years at Disney, it is that even in the face of uncertainty—perhaps especially in the face of uncertainty—our employees and Cast Members achieve the impossible.
You will be hearing more from me and your leaders tomorrow and in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, allow me to express my deep gratitude for all that you do. Disney holds a special place in the hearts of people around the globe thanks to you, and your dedication to this company and its mission to bring joy to people through great storytelling is an inspiration to me every single day.
Now, we must wait for more info as The Walt Disney Company decides how to move forward with a battle-hardened CEO and a company that is facing backlash from the stock market, political figures, and it’s passholders.