The Financial Times has posted a piece highlighting Bob Chapek’s time so far as CEO of The Walt Disney Company. Let’s go over some of the highlights.

What’s Happening:

  • “He takes over the job and then 20 minutes later Covid hits,” says Alan Horn, the legendary film producer who will retire at the end of this month after nine years at the Walt Disney Studios. “He’s had a rough year and a half.”
  • Chapek pursued digital growth during the Covid lockdowns through the Disney+ streaming service. However in doing so, he angered theater owners and Hollywood stars such as Scarlett Johansson.
  • “Chapek is not a visible person,” says Rich Greenfield, an analyst at LightShed Partners.
  • Perhaps that’s why the talent agents, attorneys, financial analysts and journalists who populate the American entertainment ecosystem tend to view him as a “parks guy” — an outsider, a number-cruncher, a cost-cutter. A former entertainment executive at Disney adds that Chapek’s reputation inside the company is “very operational.”

  • The notion that he is merely a bean-counter irks Chapek. “I’ve seen creativity in this company through every lens possible,” he says in an exclusive interview. He compares running the theme parks with observing “a focus group every day” that gave him a unique perspective on “what makes the Walt Disney Company so different from any other media company”. He adds, “It ties us to our ultimate constituent, which is the consumer.”
  • Through the turmoil, some were comforted to know that Iger, Chapek’s larger-than-life predecessor, was still serving as chair and overseeing the company’s creative work. But with Iger retiring on December 31, Chapek will have the keys to the Magic Kingdom all to himself.
  • Both Iger and Chapek saw streaming as an era-defining opportunity. Check out the full Financial Times article for more on Chapek’s controversial time as CEO and how he’s navigated the streaming age.
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