Meet the new data-driven Disney run by Bob Chapek
Bob Chapek, Disney’s new CEO, is trying to break out from the shadows of his predecessor, Bob Iger — but it has been a challenging first two years.
The succession story at Disney
In his 47 year tenure, Bob Iger took Disney (NYSE:DIS) to new heights with several successful acquisitions (Pixar, Marvel, Lucas film) and the Disney+ launch.
In March 2020, Bob Chapek replaced Bob Iger as Disney’s CEO — with Iger overseeing the transition as executive chairman — but the transition didn’t go well…
- Chapek felt Iger was delaying his retirement and didn’t want the help (via CNBC) — their relationship soured.
- The two barely spoke to each other in the following 18 months — while giving employees conflicting business strategies.
During COVID, Disney was pressured by shareholders to focus more on Disney+, which thrived — while its parks and cruise business struggled.
Disney opted for streaming releases of major films — leading to a lawsuit with Black Widow’s Scarlett Johansson — which some say wouldn’t have occurred under Iger’s watch.
Meet the new data-driven Disney
In Oct. 2020, Chapek announced a major restructuring that shifted powers among the management and creative team. It’s clear the two have very different management styles:
- Iger’s style: Relying on instinct and taste over data in decision-making — prioritizing talent.
- Chapek’s style: Numbers-focused, cutting costs, increasing prices — lacking creative experience.
(No) Creativity, inc: “Every creative person is leaving or losing power”— per one former high level Disney exec (via Hollywood Reporter).
At Disney’s annual retreat last June, Disney’s confidant reported Iger had lost faith in Chapek. Iger officially stepped down in December but the problems only got worse.
- Disney is under public fire for not taking a stance on Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill until it cleared the legislature — with employees dissatisfied with Chapek’s handling of the situation.
- Genie+, a new paid line-bypass service at Disney’s Parks launched last October, frustrating customers — leading to a petition signed by over 100K people to remove Bob Chapek as CEO.
Investors: Going the path of Waystar Royco
Bob Chapek has made big changes — asserting control and letting everyone know who’s in charge — but these changes are during a time when tech is disrupting the anxiety filled media industry.
Will a data-driven CEO help Disney keep the magic or will it become the change that kills it?