Bob Iger Returning as Disney CEO, Replacing Bob Chapek

In a truly unexpected and unprecedented move, The Walt Disney Company has announced that Bob Iger is returning to the company as CEO, effective immediately, replacing outgoing CEO Bob Chapek.

What’s Happening:

  • Iger, who spent more than four decades at Disney in different capacities — including 15 years as its CEO — has agreed to serve as Disney’s CEO for two years.
  • This comes with a mandate from the Board of Directors 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 (again).
  • Iger will of course replace outgoing CEO Bob Chapek, who has stepped down from his position.
  • The news comes after a disappointing quarterly earnings report led prominent commentators to call for Chapek’s firing. Chapek then called for a “targeted hiring freeze” among other actions.
  • There’s no word from Chapek himself, however Chairman of the Board, Susan Arnold, thanked “Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career.”
  • The position of Chairman of the Board remains unchanged, with Arnold remaining in the role.

What They’re Saying:

  • Susan Arnold, Chairman of the Board said: “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,” she said.
  • Bob Iger said: “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.”
  • Iger also sent a letter to Cast Members that said:

“Dear Fellow Employees and Cast Members,

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.

When I look at the creative success of our teams across our Studios, Disney General Entertainment, ESPN and International, the rapid growth of our streaming services, the phenomenal reimagining and rebound of our Parks, the continued great work of ABC News, and so many other achievements across our businesses, I am in awe of your accomplishments and I am excited to embark with you on many new endeavors.

I know this company has asked so much of you during the past three years, and these times certainly remain quite challenging, but as you have heard me say before, 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.

You will be hearing more from me and your leaders tomorrow and in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, allow me to express my deep gratitude for all that you do. Disney holds a special place in the hearts 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 single day.”