Bob is gone. Long live Bob.
The Walt Disney Company shocked many observers Sunday evening when it dumped CEO Bob Chapek effective immediately, replacing him with his predecessor, Bob Iger.
Chapek had been Iger's choice as successor, taking over as head of the company in February 2020 - just before everything hit the fan. Chapek saw the company through the Covid lockdowns and the recovery of its theme parks. But mounting losses at the Disney+ streaming service consumed the record profits coming in from the theme park segment, depressing Disney's stock price even as Disney+ signed up millions of subscribers around the world and won acclaim for its programming, including a global livestream of Elton John's farewell concert from Los Angeles this evening.
Lackluster box office following the conclusion of Marvel's Infinity saga and the put-it-out-of-its-misery end of the Star Wars Skywalker saga, coupled with the enduring effect of the Covid pandemic on the theater industry, also has not helped Disney's bottom line.
In turning back to Iger - who ran the company from 2005 to 2020 - Disney's board is putting the company back in the hands of the man who ordered the creation of the streaming service and who led Disney's studios to their greatest commercial success. Iger also is a master of personnel relationships when compared with Chapek - a blunt analyst who wasn't afraid to tell people what they didn't want to hear... but who lacked Iger's unique skill at convincing those people that they did, in fact, want to hear it.
"We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic," Disney Chairman Susan Arnold said. "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."
"Iger has the deep respect of Disney’s senior leadership team, most of whom he worked closely with until his departure as executive chairman 11 months ago, and he is greatly admired by Disney employees worldwide—all of which will allow for a seamless transition of leadership," Arnold said.
"I am extremely optimistic for the future of this great company and thrilled to be asked by the Board to return as its CEO," Iger said. "Disney and its incomparable brands and franchises hold a special place in the hearts of so many people around the globe—most especially in the hearts of our employees, whose dedication to this company and its mission is an inspiration. 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."
Iger is said to have an agreement to run Disney for the next two years, at which point we will all go take a ride on the succession carousel once again.
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