Yes, even Disney CEO Bob Iger harbors some less-than-enthusiastic sentiments about the company’s direction, particularly its performance and the moves taken during his predecessor’s, Bob Chapek’s, tenure. Variety reports that Iger openly voiced dissatisfaction and disappointment in an appearance at the New York Times’s Dealbook Summit in New York City.
While Iger initially opted for Chapek as his successor in February 2020, the former articulated concerns about the transition period and the company’s state in the year or so between his departure and return to the company.
Disney Once Soared Under Bob Iger’s Leadership
Generally, when Iger speaks, the business world listens. After all, his tenure as CEO of Disney, from 2005 to 2020, was characterized by enormous growth and expansion. That said, upon his November 2022 return following Chapek’s dismissal by the company’s board, Iger stared down a different landscape.
Symbolizing his reversal of the direction Chapek took the company, Iger dismantled the Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution division, a Chapek-led initiative. This was in order to streamline operations and restore decision-making to creative teams.
Putting Out Fires
The CEO did not shy away from speaking about the challenges complicating the household name company’s current state of affairs. Iger highlighted his efforts to put out the fires flaring up during Chapek’s tenure. Some of these issues, Iger admitted, stemmed from Chapek, while others were more circumstantial and steeped in world events. The latter include external disruptions, like the pandemic and geopolitical strife, roiling the world and business sector.
Disney also recently withdrew ad spending on X (formerly Twitter), a notable move under Iger’s renewed stewardship. This decision followed Elon Musk’s endorsement of what has been described as an antisemitic conspiracy theory. The CEO walked a diplomatic line, acknowledging Musk’s accomplishments but stressing that the House of Mouse was not benefiting from an association with Musk or X/Twitter.
Iger also took measures to quell rumors surrounding his company’s supposed plan to part with its linear TV businesses. Instead, stressing the importance of efficiency, the CEO tried to emphasize the ongoing evaluation of the value of these businesses to Disney. Overall, the brand has aimed to transition these traditional TV businesses into a more cutting-edge streaming business model, a shift overseen by Dana Walden and Jimmy Pitaro. Ever the advocate for efficiency—money saved, after all, is money earned—Iger is known for implementing a rigerous cost-saving strategy, which, of course, entails job eliminations. The company wide cost savings serve to cut spending by $5.5 billion, a move that is part of a broader directive to line up contest investments with production costs.
Can Iger Save The Company?
On the whole, Iger has been candid about committing himself fully to surmounting the considerable challenges facing Disney. Couching his return to the helm in a positive light and expressing how rewarding leading the company is, he nonetheless did not shy away from addressing its difficulties. With Iger’s current contract extending to Q4 of 2026, shareholders, board members alike hope that the exec can work his magic and put the company back on the path to growth. Investors also certainly hope Iger, whose last go-round choosing a successor went less than stupendously, will implement a robust, successful CEO succession process.