Bob Iger is Back as Disney CEO…Bob Chapek is Out

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In a stunning turn of events, The Walt Disney Co. says that Bob Chapek will step down as CEO, with Bob Iger returning to lead the company.

Disney’s board of directors announced the decision Sunday night.

“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” said Susan Arnold, chairman of the board, in a statement. “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.”

Chapek had just signed a new multi-year contract in June, after speculation following the ouster of TV chief Peter Rice earlier that month prompted the board to issue a notable public statement backing the CEO after the move.

Iger even acknowledged in an email to Disney employees Sunday that he is returning “with an incredible sense of gratitude and humility — and, I must admit, a bit of amazement.”

While Iger will be returning to his old role, the board also made it clear that his new term will be a temporary one.

Iger “has agreed to 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,” the board said.

Iger stepped aside as CEO in February 2020, handing the reins to Chapek, who previously led the company’s theme parks and consumer products division. He continued to serve as executive chairman of the company, stepping down from that position just 11 months ago.

Of course, as Arnold noted in her statement, the novel coronavirus pandemic took its toll on the company, shutting its theme parks and cruise ships, and stopping almost all film and TV productions. It also, however, turbocharged streaming growth, with Chapek leaning into streaming by reorganizing the company to focus on digital.

But his tenure has also been rocky, marked with controversies and distractions. From the aggressive campaign against Marvel star Scarlett Johansson that resulted in a settlement over pay for Black Widow, to Disney’s response (or lack thereof) to Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Chapek has had to deal with a wide array of public misfires during his relatively brief tenure atop the company.

Categories: ENTERTAINMENT