no one's ever really gone
Bob Iger has reportedly 'reasserted control' over Disney after stepping down as CEO
Bob Iger may have stepped aside as Disney CEO, but it doesn't sound like he's done running the company just yet.
Disney in February announced that Iger would resign as CEO and be succeeded by parks division head Bob Chapek, although Iger would remain on as executive chairman until the end of 2021. It was known that Iger was nearing retirement, but this sudden announcement still came as a bit of a shock, especially since Iger stepped aside effective immediately.
Less than two months after that announcement, The New York Times reports that Iger has "effectively returned to running" Disney and has "reasserted control" over the company amid the coronavirus crisis, during which Disney has closed its theme parks due to restrictions on large gatherings. Recently, the company said it would furlough more than 40,000 workers at Walt Disney World, and the Times cites one analyst as saying Disney is losing around $30 million a day.
Iger is now "intensely focused on remaking a company that will emerge, he believes, deeply changed by the crisis," the Times writes. In an email, Iger said that "a crisis of this magnitude, and its impact on Disney, would necessarily result in my actively helping Bob [Chapek] and the company contend with it, particularly since I ran the company for 15 years!" The dynamic between Disney's current and former CEO may best encapsulated by the fact that, according to the report, Chapek is being referred to as "Bob C," whereas Iger is just "Bob."
Some have questioned whether the coronavirus crisis contributed to Iger's decision to exit as CEO when he did, although he is denying that there was anything "hidden" or "odd" about his departure. But the Times writes that the question, people close to Disney say, is more about whether Iger's "focus on burnishing his own legacy and assuring a smooth succession left him distracted as the threats to the business grew."