One of the most notable CEOs in Walt Disney Company history, Bob Iger, who took Hollywood by storm, is returning to run the media empire.
Bob Chapek, who replaced Iger as CEO in 2020, is stepping down effective immediately.
“We thank Bob Chapek for his long career of service to Disney, which has included navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” Susan Arnold, chair of the board for Disney, said in a statement Sunday night. ” “The board concluded that as Disney enters an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely positioned to lead the company through this important period.”
The announcement, while deeply surprising to the media industry, comes at a time of great growth for Disney. The company is coming off a lackluster earnings report that showed growth for its streaming efforts. However, this came at a great cost. Disney’s streaming business lost $1.5 billion in the fourth quarter. That report sent Disney’s stock into a slump after a year of sluggish performance.
Chapek guided the company through the pandemic, one of the most tumultuous periods in its nearly 100-year history, but Disney ultimately decided its future was in better hands with Iger.
Iger has an almost mythical status as the leader of Disney. He spent 15 years as CEO and was instrumental in acquiring major brands such as Marvel and Lucasfilm, the home of Star Wars. Iger ushered in the streaming revolution at Disney in November 2019 with the creation of Disney+.
Disney said Sunday that Iger has agreed to serve as CEO for two years with “a mandate from the board to set strategic direction for new growth and to lead the company upon completion of his term.” To work closely with the Board in developing a successor for.”
The move is also surprising as Chapek recently renewed his contract.
The company’s board of directors voted unanimously to extend Chapek’s contract as CEO for another three years, the company said in June. Chapek’s new contract began in July and was set to run until 2025.
At the same time, it appeared that Iger was set in retirement with his legacy as one of Disney’s most notable and successful CEOs.
“I am extremely optimistic about the future of this great company and am thrilled to be asked by the board to return as its CEO,” Iger said in a statement Sunday. “Disney and its incomparable brands and franchises hold a special place in the hearts of so many people around the world – especially in the hearts of our employees, whose dedication to this company and its mission is an inspiration.”
Iger said he is “greatly honored to be asked to lead this remarkable team again, with a clear mission focused on creative excellence to inspire generations through unmatched, bold storytelling.” ”