Clue to Disney CEO Stunner Lies in 2020 NYT Article

Just a few months after stepping down back then, Bob Iger seemingly regretted his decision
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 21, 2022 1:07 PM CST
Clue to Disney Surprise Can Be Found in 2020 NYT Article
Bob Iger arrives at the world premiere of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," in Los Angeles, on Dec. 16, 2019.   (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, FIle)

This weekend brought a bombshell in the world of business: Disney ousted CEO Bob Chapek and brought back former CEO Bob Iger to replace him. How surprising is it? Consider that Disney's board gave Chapek a three-year extension in June, notes the Washington Post. So what's behind what Axios calls "one of the messiest corporate succession failures in recent memory"? A look at coverage:

  • Rough quarter: Disney recently wrapped up a disappointing quarter, particularly in regard to streaming. It was so disappointing that Chapek had outlined plans for a hiring freeze, layoffs, and other cost cuts, reports Reuters.
  • Wall Street is happy: Disney shares rose 9% to $100 on Monday morning in the wake of the CEO change, reports the Wall Street Journal. The increase retreated a bit but was still around 6% midday.

  • Chapek's performance: He replaced Iger in 2020 and is credited with guiding Disney through the pandemic. But beyond that, Frank Pallotta of CNN Business describes a "bumpy tenure." One controversy he mentions (as do others) is Chapek's handling of the controversial law restricting LGBTQ topics in the classroom in Florida, where Disney employs about 80,000 people. Chapek took heat for not speaking out against the measure, before apologizing for that "silence." Iger, meanwhile, took a public stance against the bill, calling it a matter of "what is right and what is wrong." Another high-profile moment: Disney's public dispute with Scarlett Johansson over payment.
  • Early friction: Iger stepped down in February 2020, after having postponed earlier retirements three times. But it seems he had a change of heart as early as April of that same year, CNBC reported earlier this year. In an interview with Ben Smith of the New York Times published that month, Iger said he felt compelled to play a role in helping Chapek run the company because of the emerging challenges of the pandemic. The CNBC story says Chapek was "furious" about Iger's comments and had not sought his help. Friction between the men began growing, and the rift never healed.

  • More on the NYT story: Here is how Smith framed things in the April 2020 story: "Iger has effectively returned to running the company. After a few weeks of letting Mr. Chapek take charge, Mr. Iger smoothly reasserted control, BlueJeans video call by BlueJeans video call." It seems he just couldn't let go of the company he had run successfully from 2005 to 2020.
(More Bob Iger stories.)

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