out with the new bob in with the old bob
Bob Iger makes a surprise return to Disney as CEO Bob Chapek is ousted
Move over, Bob. The other Bob has returned.
In a jaw-dropping announcement, Disney said Sunday that Bob Chapek has stepped down as CEO, and former CEO Bob Iger is returning to that position effective immediately.
"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," Susan Arnold, chair of Disney's board, said.
Iger served as Disney CEO from 2005 until 2020, when he resigned and announced Chapek as his replacement. Since then, Chapek's tenure at Disney has been a tumultuous one, and there were questions about whether he would retain his job earlier this year amid criticism over his handling of Disney's response to Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill.
In June, Disney extended Chapek's contract for another three years, seemingly indicating he had weathered the storm and was here to stay. But his departure only months later came after a disappointing earnings report from Disney that left CNBC's Jim Cramer calling for Chapek to be fired.
Chapek's exit sent shock waves through the industry, but equally stunning was the fact that Iger is coming back as CEO — despite telling The New York Times as recently as January it's "ridiculous" to suggest he might return. "I was CEO for a long time," he said. "You can't go home again. I'm gone."
Disney said Sunday that Iger has agreed to return as CEO for two years to "set the strategic direction for renewed growth" and to work with the board in "developing a successor to lead the company," even though he already named Chapek as his successor in 2020.
In a note to employees, Iger said he's returning to Disney with a "sense of gratitude and humility" — "and, I must admit, a bit of amazement." It's safe to say analysts weren't any less amazed.