In a surprise shakeup, Robert ‘Bob’ A. Iger has returned as CEO for The Walt Disney Company for two years, with Bob Chapek stepping down from the position.
‘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 in a statement.
‘Disney and it’s 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,’ he continued.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Iger emailed Disney employees on Sunday, November 20, that he is returning ‘with an incredible sense of gratitude and humility – and, I must admit, a bit of amazement.’
Iger will ‘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,’ per Disney, in a statement.
Iger, 71, stepped down as CEO in February 2020 after 15 years in the position, with Chapek, 62, filling the role. During Iger’s tenure, Disney acquired Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox. In December 2021, Iger also left the role of Executive Chairman of the company.
‘We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic. 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,’ Chairman of the Board Susan Arnold said.
Chapek’s run has been controversial, with the company also performing poorly – with shares of the company falling to 41% so far this year.
THR reported that when Iger took the role of CEO in 2005, Disney’s market cap was approximately $55 billion and was at $260 billion in January 2020 – one month before he stepped down. On Friday, the market cap was $167 billion.
During his brief tenure, Disney went head to head with Marvel star Scarlett Johansson after she sued the company, claiming they sacrificed box office potential of Black Widow for Disney Plus. Disney and Scarlett eventually settled. Chapek was also center stage over Disney’s response to the Don’t Say Gay Bill in Florida.
On November 11, Chapek announced Disney would freeze hiring with layoffs likely to follow in a bid to trim costs, per THR.
Iger told Disney employees in the email he will address the company Monday, according to outlet.
‘I know this company as 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,’ Iger said in the note, per THR.