Robert Iger Replaces Bob Chapek
In a dramatic turn of events, Bob Chapek – the Disney CEO for three years – has been shown the door. Robert Iger, who resigned in 2020, has once again become the CEO of Disney. The move comes amid extreme financial pressure faced by the company and after many controversies surrounding Chapek.
Before Chapel became the CEO, Iger was trying to retire from the company. There were two or three contenders for the post of CEO. Chapek’s promotion to the CEO post came as a bit of a surprise. But the speed with which he has been replaced is a much bigger surprise. Back in June 2022, Disney’s board unanimously decided to extend the tenure of Chapek for three more years. And now, in November – just 5 months after this decision, Chapek is replaced by Iger.
Chapek and a Series of Bad Lucks
It is not that Bob Chapek was an incompetent leader. In fact, Iger was the one who supported Chapek as his replacement. However, his tenure was filled with too many unfortunate developments.
First, Chapek’s ascension to the CEO post coincided with the outbreak of Covide-19. From budget cuts to firing 28,000 cast members – Chapek did a lot that earned him the title of ‘cost-cutter CEO’. These harsh measures resulted in employee morale going down.
Secondly, perhaps because of the pandemic, Chapek started giving more importance to Disney+ and less to theme parks. On top of that, as part of his cost-cutting measures, he tried to squeeze as much money out of Disney theme park enthusiasts as possible. In a survey conducted by time2play, 68% of the respondents said that the increased price of Disney theme park tickets had stolen the magic away from these parks. Yet, Chapek was helpless. The pandemic lockdown resulted in a lost operating income of $2.6 billion in 2021. The parks have recovered this year. But Chapek continued to focus on the streaming service.
Thirdly, the PR disaster caused by the Scarlett Johanson lawsuit during the tenure of Chapek dramatically eroded his reputation. Many were of the belief that if Iger had been at the helm, the lawsuit would not have taken place and nor would Disney find itself cornered by other companies taking the side of Scarlett Johanson. His silence on the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill further eroded his popularity, for which he even had to apologise.
The selection of Kareem Danie, the right-hand man of Chapek, as the Chairman of Disney’s media and entertainment division, also did not go down well with the creative people in the entertainment division, as they lost their say in how Disney’s content budget would be used.
Reversal of Chapek’s Organisational Structure
As soon as Iger returned as the CEO, the first thing he did was reverse the organisational structure – and the culture – put forth by Chapek. Chapek saw Disney’s growth in terms of profit and loss. However, Disney has a legacy, a nostalgia associated with it. To ignore that legacy is to kill Disney altogether. Iger has announced that he will try to preserve the creative spirit that Disney has been carrying since the day of its inception.
Disney Still Needs a Proper Successor to Iger
Yes, Mr. Iger has returned to Disney. However, he is there only to clean up the mess created by Chapek and to pull Disney up. In a couple of years, Iger would like to find a suitable successor. In fact, as per his new contract, he will be serving as the CEO for two years only. Disney has been struggling to find an able successor to Iger for years. There are people like Dana Walden, Peter Rice, and James Pitaro – who have shown great prowess in handling key divisions in Disney. Let’s wait and watch who emerges now as the ablest contender for the post of Disney CEO.