As one Bob exits, another Bob arrives. At least, that’s how Disney has been running its CEO hiring.
In one of the most shocking Hollywood stories of the year, The Walt Disney Company is having Bob Iger return to the CEO role. Bob Chapek, who replaced Iger in 2020 as CEO, is stepping down immediately.
“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, Chairman of the Board for Disney, said in a statement on Sunday night. “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.”
Bob Iger’s work for the company is historical. He served as president of Disney from 2000, where he succeeded Michael Eisner as CEO in 2005 until his contract ended in 2020.
Iger is best known for giving Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm a new home: launching Marvel and Star Wars to a new level. Iger also closed the $71 billion deal to buy most of 21st Century Fox. His legacy wasn’t done either, as he was the one who kicked off the streaming revolution for Disney when he launched Disney+ in November 2019.
Chapek’s short tenure at The Walt Disney Company was not as successful. During the last lackluster earnings report, we saw the brand lose $1.5 billion in just one quarter, compared to a loss of $630 million in last year’s fourth quarter. We also saw more personal tiffs with Chapek begin as he publicly beefed with Scarlett Johansson regarding pay, and no one can forget his horrid stance on the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill in Florida.
While the story does come as a surprise, it seems to be a welcomed one. Investors were overjoyed with the news, launching Disney shares up 9% Monday after the stock lost roughly 36% of its value this year. Disney fans took to social media and expressed their joy at Iger’s return, but more so the removal of Chapek.
“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 Sunday. “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.”
Iger adds that he’s “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.”
Lastly, Disney noted that Iger has agreed to serve as 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.”
Let’s hope they find someone who isn’t named Bob for the job…