The Disney Saga: Did you really think Bob Iger would stay away?

The top job at Disney is notoriously hard to quit. Michael Eisner, who served as CEO for 21 years is known to have never wanted to leave the post. “I would expect to stay there forever,” he said in 1997, “at least as long as I live.” But his tenure did not end as he expected, and in 2005 he had left after a shareholder revolt. Eisner’s successor, bob iger, renewed his own contract four times before finally retiring in February 2020. So who should be surprised that he’s back after less than three years?

In a Sunday night memo to Disney employees, Iger himself expressed surprise at returning to the company he had run for 15 years. After all, he’d spent most of the year publicly insisting he was done with work, even telling journalists and Vary podcast host Kara Swisher that rumors he might return as CEO are “ridiculous”. A person familiar with Iger’s thinking says, “It’s fair to take his word for it that he thought he was done.” But perhaps no one, not even Iger, read the tea leaves correctly.

Bob ChapekDisney’s tenure as CEO has not been smooth sailing. He angered the talent community by going into battle with him Scarlett Johansson above her Black widow Treaty, then alienated the LGBTQ+ community and its allies when he first chose not to comment on Florida’s Don’t Say Gay law and then reversed course. Meanwhile, visitors to the theme parks are outraged by the rising prices at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Creative leaders are frustrated with their loss of decision-making authority. Investors were reportedly confused by Chapek’s cheerful tone on an earnings call in the context of a shockingly poor quarter. Employees expressed concern about planned cost-cutting measures, including a hiring freeze and layoffs. According to reports, Chapek has not had many people in his corner in recent weeks The New York Times, Disney executives began talking about stepping down if Chapek stayed and CFO Christine McCarthy reportedly told at least one board member that she had lost confidence in him as a leader.

Chapek’s job was only made more difficult by the fact that even after he stepped down as CEO, Iger never actually left. Iger’s decision to stay on as Executive Chairman through the end of 2021 at times put him in direct conflict with Chapek, a more hard-headed numbers person seen by many as the polar opposite of the slick, creative Iger. The Hollywood Reporter wrote last October that a rift had developed between the Bobs following an April 2020 article The New York Times suggested that Iger had “effectively returned to running the company” in response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic. Even after Iger would have Finally, fully adopted, it can’t have been easy for Chapek to lead with the specter of his popular predecessor looming over him. For example, while Chapek fiddled with the “Don’t Say Gay” moment, many Disney watchers noted that Iger had already done so tweeted his criticism of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

To be fair, Iger did To attempt keep going. After staying on as Disney CEO much longer than he intended — and going through some potential heirs — he finally seemed happy with his decision to name Chapek as his successor and publicly committed to the next chapter of his career. He began work on a second book, joined the board of Metaverse startup Genies, and landed a role at venture firm Thrive Capital. Before he got the call from Disney’s chairman on Friday afternoon Susan Arnold that would eventually lure him back to Disney, he had spoken to RedBird Capital Partners, the investment firm he runs Gerry Cardinale that owns shares David Ellison‘s Skydance and Lebron James‘s SpringHill Entertainment, according to a source vanity fair. But Iger, who was once expected to run for president or take on a post of ambassador to the presidency Joe Biden‘s administration, was available when the Disney board needed him.

When Iger’s memo hit their inboxes Sunday night, many of Disney’s top executives were among them dana walden, the chairman of the general entertainment department, were with Elton-John‘s Dodger Stadium farewell concert streamed live on Disney+. tell sources vf that creatives across the company are cheering the news of Iger’s return. Another person who seemed happy for Iger was his predecessor Eisner, who tweeted, “Welcome back to Disney.” Eisner may have seen it coming. The Disney Saga: Did you really think Bob Iger would stay away?

Charles Jones

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