In a shocking turn of events, Robert “Bob” Iger is once again CEO of The Walt Disney Company.
Per Deadline, Iger’s initial successor, Bob Chapek, has stepped down as Disney CEO. Iger now returns to the position after less than one year of retirement. “The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) announced today that Robert A. Iger is returning to lead Disney as Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately,” the company wrote in an official notice. “Mr. Iger, who spent more than four decades at the Company, including 15 years as its CEO, 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. Mr. Iger succeeds Bob Chapek, who has stepped down from his position.”
Susan Arnold, who remains chairman of the board at Disney, said, “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.” Arnold continued, “Mr. Iger has the deep respect of Disney’s senior leadership team, most of whom he worked closely with until his departure as executive chairman 11 months ago, and he is greatly admired by Disney employees worldwide — all of which will allow for a seamless transition of leadership.”
Iger himself added, “I am extremely optimistic for the future of this great company and thrilled to be asked by the Board to return as its CEO. 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.”
Bob Iger Returns to Disney
Having been an executive at the American Broadcast Company, Iger first joined the Disney fold when the company acquired ABC in 1995. Iger remained chairman of ABC until 1999, at which point he was named president of Walt Disney International. Iger was then named president and chief operating officer of The Walt Disney Company itself in 2000. It was in 2005 that Iger was chosen to replace Michael Eisner as CEO. During his initial, 15-year tenure as CEO of Disney, Iger oversaw a number of major events for the company, such as its acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox.
In early 2020, Iger announced that he was stepping down as CEO, with Chapek — then-chairman of Disney Parks — being named as his successor. Iger was named executive chairman so as to oversee the transition of power. Iger’s mandate as executive chairman was then extended through 2021, so he could guide Chapek and other high-level execs through the early days of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Iger stepped down from Disney completely on Dec. 31, 2021, with Arnold taking over as chairman of the board.
Notably, Chapek’s short time as CEO has been turbulent. Disney execs and creatives alike have reportedly been unhappy with his leadership for some time. Chapek has also drawn the ire of fans for his price increases on everything from the Disney+ streaming service to Disney theme park experiences. Moreover, Chapek faced major backlash from both audiences and his own employees for his initial response to Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill earlier this year. On that note, Disney was reportedly considering replacing Chapek as far back as this past March.