The Walt Disney Co. is undergoing a major and highly unexpected corporate reorganization as it the current CEO, Bob Chapek, steps down and is succeeded by his predecessor, Bob Iger.
The news was revealed by the Disney board of directors on Sunday. This change is effective immediately, as Iger returns to a role he didn’t leave until 2020. Iger’s new contract will allow him to serve as CEO for the next two years.
“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney throughout his long career, including leading the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” Board of Directors Chairman Susan Arnold said in a statement. “The Board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely positioned to lead the Company through this crucial period.”
This news comes just days after Chapek notified company executives of a new series of cost-cutting measures, including layoffs, a selective hiring freeze and limited travel. Disney’s recent quarterly earnings report showed worrying signs for the companyincluding a nearly $1.5 billion loss on the streaming division, which sent the company’s share price tumbling to its lowest level in two years.
“I am fully aware that this is going to be a difficult process for many of you and your teams,” Chapek said. “We are going to have to make difficult and uncomfortable decisions. But that is just what leadership requires, and I thank you in advance for stepping up at this most important time. Our company has overcome many challenges during our 100-year history. , and I have no doubt that we will achieve our goals and create a company that is more agile and better adapted to tomorrow’s environment.”
Iger was previously CEO of The Walt Disney Co. from 2005 to 2020. During his tenure, Iger oversaw a period of tremendous expansion for the company, including the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox, as well as the launch of the Disney+ streaming service. Chapek previously held the role of Director of Parks, Experiences and Products and Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts before being promoted to CEO in February 2020.
Chapek’s brief time in the job has been marked by several pandemic-related challenges and a fair degree of turmoil, starting with a major fight between Iger and Chapek. Chapek was also criticized for his handling of the salary dispute between the studio and actress Scarlett Johansson, as well as his initial response to Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
It is clear that Disney’s board of directors hopes to return to the stability and growth marked by Iger’s previous tenure as CEO. However, the company continues to face strong economic winds and fierce competition in the streaming market, so it remains to be seen whether Chapek’s second stint will be as successful.