Disney has been swimming in controversy over the past few years.
And the company was even more chaotic behind the scenes.
And Disney’s CEO got his job back by doing something that will leave you speechless.
Disney CEO Bob Iger is back in the driver’s seat after his hand-picked successor Bob Chapek recently got fired.
Chapek was blamed for many company failures, including its war with Florida governor Ron DeSantis.
But it turns out that Chapek had someone behind the scenes undermining him: his predecessor Bob Iger.
From The Wall Street Journal:
“The former Disney chairman and CEO, who ran the company for 15 years, stuck around long after Mr. Chapek assumed the top job in February 2020. That Mr. Iger was unhappy with Mr. Chapek is well established. Less well known is the depth of his antipathy and the lengths he went to deflate Mr. Chapek behind the scenes. Mr. Iger, then still under contract as executive chairman, didn’t move out of the office he kept at Disney’s headquarters in Burbank, Calif. He called strategy meetings with Mr. Chapek’s underlings without inviting the new CEO. Mr. Chapek told friends that Mr. Iger’s attitude seemed to be: ‘They work for me, not for you.’”
Iger hanging around as shadow CEO turned out to be a bad sign for Chapek, as the rift and power struggle between the two grew.
The Journal continued:
“Mr. Iger wanted to delay staff cuts until Congress approved legislation to blunt the economic impact of the pandemic. Mr. Chapek sought to move quickly to cut costs and preserve cash. Mr. Iger won, persuading the board that it was better to wait. Mr. Chapek complained privately to his deputies that he wasn’t fully in control. Soon, everybody heard why. Mr. Iger told the New York Times in April 2020 that his plan to take a back seat was undone by Covid-19. ‘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!’ he said. Mr. Chapek was livid. Any hope Mr. Chapek would seek out Mr. Iger for counsel went from unlikely to out of the question.”
There was also an ideological misalignment between the two Bobs.
Iger is a partisan Democrat who floated the idea of running for president, while Chapek has more conservative/libertarian leanings.
Chapek wanted to keep Disney out of the controversy over Florida’s Parental Rights in Education legislation, which was smeared by the left as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Chapek’s instincts were correct, but he gave into internal pressure from ideologues, which triggered a retaliation from Governor DeSantis.
In the end, Chapek got blamed for both not pushing back against DeSantis earlier and losing the company’s special tax dispensation as a result of the clash with the governor.
The Journal added:
“The governor later pushed Florida’s legislature to pass a bill eliminating a special tax district that allowed Disney to essentially self-govern the land where the theme parks are located. The conflict alienated progressives, who had wanted Disney to take a strong stand against the bill, but also conservative fans, who complained that Mr. Chapek’s response indicated the company’s capitulation to left-wing activists. Ironically, while Mr. Iger embraced liberal causes, Mr. Chapek has a more conservative view. He hired former members of President George W. Bush’s administration to staff his government-relations office. In late March, while the controversy was still raging, Mr. Iger told TV interviewer Chris Wallace that ‘one of the things that CEOs accept as a responsibility is that they’re going to have to weigh in on issues, even if voicing an opinion on those issues potentially puts some of your business in danger.’ Some company directors began talking informally among themselves about whether Mr. Chapek was still capable of steering the ship.”
Iger got his wish as Chapek was squeezed out the door.
And with Iger hovering over his shoulder the entire time, it looks like Chapek didn’t stand a chance.