Saturday, May 18, 2024

Bob Iger’s Disney Return Begins with Undoing Chapek’s Work

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With Bob Iger back as CEO of the Walt Disney Company, changes are already underway as the old boss returns to the office. 

A memo sent to employees on Monday announced that a top executive of Disney’s Media and Entertainment Distribution unit would be leaving the company. Kareem Daniel, who was axed on Monday, had worked closely with Bob Chapek, the just-jettisoned former CEO who was Iger’s replacement for a two-year stint that ended Sunday with the former top exec’s return to the House of Mouse. Daniel had been with Disney since 2006 and was appointed to his most recent post by Chapek in October 2020.

Iger’s day one plan appears to be the reorganization of DMED—essentially undoing Chapek’s work on the department. This was one of the ousted exec’s signature initial moves as CEO, but as Alexandra Canal with Yahoo Finance reports, Chapek’s DMED reorganization was controversial, upsetting to company veterans, and reportedly confused other staffers.

“Over the coming weeks, we will begin implementing organizational and operating changes within the company,” Iger wrote in a memo shared with the company. “It is my intention to restructure things in a way that honors and respects creativity as the heart and soul of who we are. As you know, this is a time of enormous change and challenges in our industry, and our work will also focus on creating a more efficient and cost-effective structure.”

While uncertainties are now flooding the Magic Kingdom regarding these reorganizations, investors seem to be thrilled about the shift back to the Iger golden years. Disney’s shares skipped upward Monday, despite having dipped more than 40% this year. Daniel’s ouster and Iger’s changes now throw Disney’s streaming strategy into question, as these operational changes directly impact the group organized under the Media and Entertainment Distribution. In his note, Iger added that he expects a new structure to take form in a matter of months. 

The returning CEO also asked company executives Dana Walden, Alan Bergman, Jimmy Pitaro, and Christine McCarthy “to work together on the design of a new structure that puts more decision-making back in the hands of our creative teams and rationalizes costs.” While he noted that elements of DMED will remain, he centered storytelling as the core of the company. 

“This is a moment of great change and opportunity for our company as we begin our second century, and I am so proud to be leading this team again,” Iger wrote. “I can’t say it enough: I’m incredibly grateful for the tremendous work you do each day, and for your commitment to maintaining the level of excellence Disney has always been known for. 

“I know change can be unsettling, but it is also necessary and even energizing, and so I ask for your patience as we develop a roadmap for this restructuring,” he continued. “More information will be shared over the coming weeks. Until a new structure is put in place, we will continue to operate under our existing structure. In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and thank you again for all you do.”

City News Service contributed to this report

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