In a shocking announcement late Sunday night, Disney has revealed that CEO Bob Chapek is officially out and set to be replaced by former CEO Bob Iger, who retired from the position just two years ago. Disney‘s board sent out an official announcement noting the swap without elaborating too much on Chapek‘s exit and establishing that Iger, who worked for Disney for over 40 years, has agreed to return as CEO for two years. Over the next two years, Iger will work closely with the board to find an appropriate successor to lead Disney moving forward. Chapek‘s exit comes as a surprise as he has served the company for just over two years and his contract was “unanimously” renewed through 2025 just five months ago.
Upon his return, Iger sent out an email to Disney employees and Cast Members. In it, he wrote, “It is with an incredible sense of gratitude and humility—and, I must admit, a bit of amazement—that I write to you this evening with the news that I am returning to the Walt Disney Company as Chief Executive Officer.” Iger previously held the position at Disney for 15 years and is still widely beloved by fans of the company. In his statement, Iger celebrated the company’s successes across its various teams and spoke with an inspiring optimism at the future of Disney — which feels like a breath of fresh air after Chapek‘s increasingly unfavorable decisions. In the last few months alone, Chapek had announced mass layoffs and shared a number of opinions that clearly did not align with the company’s vision.
Iger continued, saying “I am in awe of your accomplishments and I am excited to embark with you on many new endeavors.” Over the past three years, between dealing with the pandemic and Chapek‘s questionable leadership, Disney employees both behind the scenes and in the parks have been through a lot. Iger‘s reinstatement is an exciting first step back towards optimism and faith in the future of the company. Iger finished his message to Disney employees by saying:
“I am an optimist, and if I learned one thing from my years at Disney, it is that even in the face of uncertainty—perhaps especially in the face of uncertainty—our employees and Cast members achieve the impossible. Disney holds a special place in the heard of people around the globe thanks to you, and your dedication to this company and its mission to bring joy to people through great storytelling is an inspiration to me every day.”
Read Disney’s Official Statement on Reinstating Bob Iger and Bob Chapek’s Exit:
The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) announced today that Robert A. Iger is returning to lead Disney as Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. 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.
“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. “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.”
“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,” she said.
The position of Chairman of the Board remains unchanged, with Ms. Arnold serving in that capacity.
“I am extremely optimistic for the future of this great company and thrilled to be asked by the Board to return as its CEO,” Mr. Iger said. “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.”
During his 15 years as CEO, from 2005 to 2020, Mr. Iger helped build Disney into one of the world’s most successful and admired media and entertainment companies with a strategic vision focused on creative excellence, technological innovation and international growth. He expanded on Disney’s legacy of unparalleled storytelling with the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox and increased the Company’s market capitalization fivefold during his time as CEO. Mr. Iger continued to direct Disney’s creative endeavors until his departure as Executive Chairman last December, and the Company’s robust pipeline of content is a testament to his leadership and vision.