Disney stunned the world on Sunday evening as the giant announced an unexpected change at the top of the company. Bob Iger returns as Disney’s CEO. He is replacing Bob Chapek, who has served as the company’s top executive for almost three years. Chapek was Iger’s choice as successor, with Iger serving as Disney’s executive chairman until the end of 2021.
After his initial 15-year run, Iger will return as Disney CEO for two years. Among other things, his mission is to find a successor for the powerful role. Chapek was also Iger’s pick, but the two execs fell apart over the former’s decisions.
Disney announced that Iger is returning to lead the company “effective immediately.” He has “a mandate from the Board to set the strategic direction for renewed growth and to work closely with the Board in developing a successor.”
“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” 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.”
Arnold is Disney’s Chairman of the Board, and her role will remain unchanged.
“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. He made no reference to his predecessor.
Why did Disney replace Bob Chapek with Bob Iger?
“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.”
As Deadline points out, Chapek served as CEO during turbulent times for the company. He got the CEO job at the start of the pandemic, which immediately impacted Disney’s various businesses.
During his tenure, Chapek drew plenty of criticism for the way he handled certain aspects of Disney’s daily operations. His relationship with talent came under scrutiny. Disney’s fierce and very public stance against Scarlett Johansson after the Black Widow release is the best example of that.
Also, Disney employees felt the former CEO has mishandled Disney’s reaction to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation. Similarly, his moves concerning Disney’s parks unit sparked controversy.