Bob Iger is returning to head Disney as Bob Chapek steps down

The Walt Disney Co. said today that Bob Iger is returning to head the company as Bob Chapek is stepping down from the CEO post. Iger, who officially left the company last year, is set to take command immediately. The company said that he will serve as the CEO for two years.

“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic. 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," Chairman of the Board Susan Arnold said in a letter.

“Mr. Iger has the deep respect of Disney’s senior leadership team, most of whom he worked closely with until his departure as executive chairman 11 months ago, and he is greatly admired by Disney employees worldwide — all of which will allow for a seamless transition of leadership.”

The company said that there is no change in the board and Arnold will continue to serve as a chairperson.

Iger served as Disney's CEO from 2005 to 2020 for 15 years before deciding to step down and hand over the reins to Chapek. Notably, Chapek signed a three-year extension contract with the company in June.

On his return, Iger said that he was optimistic about Disney's future and was thrilled to return to the company.

"Disney and its incomparable brands and franchises hold a special place in the hearts of so many people around the globe — most especially in the hearts of our employees, whose dedication to this company and its mission is an inspiration. I am deeply honored to be asked to again lead this remarkable team, with a clear mission focused on creative excellence to inspire generations through unrivaled, bold storytelling," he said in a statement.

In his previous stint, Iger oversaw major acquisitions like Pixar, Marvel, and 21st Century Fox. The returning CEO also sent an email to the Disney staff, including cast members, saying they'll hear more about this move from the leadership "tomorrow and in coming weeks."

Chapek's 11-month tenure hadn't been great for the company, as its stock value has dropped by more than 40% at the time of writing. He was also criticized for not taking an active stance to oppose Florida’s anti-gay bill. Under his management, the company fired senior content executive Peter Rice and passed up an opportunity to get digital rights for streaming the Indian Premier League cricket tournament.

The company registered a revenue of $20.2 billion in Q3 2022 and missed analyst expectations by nearly $1 billion. At that time, Disney's CFO Christine McCarthy said that the entertainment company aims to achieve profitability by fiscal year 2024. The company adjusted its target of global Disney+ subscribers by 2024 from 230–260 million to 215–245 million.