Bob Iger addressed Disney employees on Monday for the first time since returning as CEO for The Walt Disney Company during a town hall.
Last week, Robert ‘Bob’ A. Iger returned as CEO for The Walt Disney Company for two years, with Bob Chapek stepping down from the position.
During the Town Hall meeting, Bob revealed that it ‘was a surprise’ they asked him to return as CEO but ‘he had some inkling that the call could come that day,’ he said, via The Hollywood Reporter.
He had already asked his wife Willow Bay if he should to Disney if they asked him: ‘Her reaction was, “If you are asked, you have to do it.”‘
Bob said he was ’emotionally distant, purposefully’ after he left Disney but he ‘never fully detached.’
He addressed the hiring freeze that Bob Chapek had put in place, revealing that it will stay.
Bob also dismissed the rumor that Apple could buy Disney, calling it ‘pure speculation.’
He said he does not expect Disney to make any acquisitions: ‘We have a great set of assets here. Nothing is forever, but I am very, very comfortable with each of the assets that we have.’
Bob added that he wanted Disney employees to work together: ‘I happen to believe that in creative businesses, there is tremendous value in working from the same place. It creates an energy, it is very enabling to creativity… I am not making any proclamations but I think that is extremely important.’
On the company’s relationship with Florida after the Don’t Say Gay bill handling. he said: ‘I had no idea what its ramifications are in terms of the business iteself. The state of Florida has been very important to us for a long time, and we have been very important to the state of Florida.
Adding: ‘I think there’s a misconception here about what politics is. Some of the subjects that have been proven to be controversial as it relates to Disney have been branded political, and i don’t think they are. Do I like the company being embroiled in controversy? Of course not,’ and that he will try ‘quiet things down.’
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.
‘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.
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.
‘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.