In a shocking development, Bob Iger has agreed to return as Disney CEO for two years while Bob Chapek exits the company.
The news comes nearly a year after Iger’s exit as Executive Chairman. If you recall, he stepped down as CEO in February 2020, which paved the way for Bob Chapek to step into the role. SXSW 2020 would have been one of Chapek’s first public appearances but then the Covid-19 pandemic forced the festival to cancel.
This news could not be more thrilling after Chapek’s poor response to Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill. Chapek’s response led to Disney’s LGBTQ employees staging a walkout. Chapek and Disney would ultimately respond at the end of March but it was too little, too late. Throw in everything else that’s been happening and Iger is in the best position to be leading Disney as the company celebrates 100 Years of Wonder in 2023.
The following statement was released by Disney board chair Susan Arnold:
“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.”
“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.”
Bob Iger’s statement upon his return:
“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.”
In his previous 15 years as CEO (2005-2020), Iger helped grow Disney into one of the planet’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. 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.
Outside of the mandate given to him by the board in setting the company’s direction for growth, Iger will be playing a key role in deciding who his successor will be and will almost certainly be duking it out with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis during the next two years. Unlike Chapek, Iger was never one to stray from politics.
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