Bob Chapek is no longer the Chief Executive Officer of the Walt Disney Company. In a surprise Sunday night announcement, Disney said Chapek’s role is being taken back over by former Disney CEO Bob Iger.
Disney’s press release states that Chapek “stepped down from his position” with the Walt Disney Company.
Via the press release:
“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” said Susan Arnold, Chairman of the Board. “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.”
Chapek’s brief stint as Disney CEO ran from February 2020 until November 2022. His two years were filled with hurdles and problems, with the largest being the COVID-19 pandemic. To Chapek’s credit, Disney emerged from COVID-19 in reasonably good shape despite massive revenue losses.
Unfortunately, Chapek’s accolades as CEO mostly end there. There was the uncomfortable confrontation with the Florida government. The Scarlett Johansson lawsuit. And, of course, the widely-shared perception that the experience at Disney parks is rapidly degrading as prices increase.
While Chapek’s biggest missteps were widely noticed and reported, the discussion of quality and value in the theme parks is often contained within Disney fan circles. That’s been gradually changing during Chapek’s reign. The issues that have led even die-hard fans to turn away from Disney (we didn’t renew our annual passes) are being felt outside the Disney bubble. Chapek’s tone-deaf comments haven’t aided the situation, with such brilliant comments as “unfavorable attendance mix” and price increases being “up to the consumer.”
Bob Iger returning is a drastic measure by Disney. It represents the general lack of options Disney has for a future CEO. But, if Disney is willing to make such a severe change, it should tell everyone everything they need to know about how Chapek was doing.