5 things to know about Bob Iger, the boss who must save Disney

On Sunday evening, it was to the great surprise of company employees and investors that former boss Bob Iger (real name Rober Iger), who had a career at Disney from 2005 to 2020, has announced his return effective immediately. He replaces Bob Chapek, who headed The Walt Disney Company for only two years. A decisive handover for the future of the entertainment giant.

Disney will celebrate its centenary on November 11, 2023. But for that, will his financial health still have to follow. Down 41% since the start of the year, its stock price is representative of the situation. The company has spent a lot on the launch of its Disney+ streaming platform. Its quarterly results released earlier this month disappointed.

Much appreciated, Bob Iger replaces a more controversial Bob Chapek. It must be said that after exceptional months for many sectors with the pandemic, Disney is now facing a threatening recession. Bob Chapek announced a few days ago that he was going to cut budgets for recruitment.

“The Board of Directors has concluded that Disney is entering a period of complex industry transformation, and that Bob Iger is uniquely positioned to lead the Company through this pivotal time”reads a report by the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Susan Arnold.

20 years at Disney

At the age of 71, Bog Iger is no newbie to Disney. On the contrary. He has even already spent more than 20 years there, including 15 as group boss. His entry into the company dates back to 1995 when he worked at American Broadcasting Company, which was not yet called ABC. That year, the Walt Disney Company bought out the company for ABC Inc fame, and Bob Iger remained its chairman until 1999. While remaining a member of the television company’s board, he began his first role as head of the business unit for international operations at Disney.

It didn’t take long before he became Chief Operating Officer (COO) in 2000, thus becoming Disney’s number two behind Michael Eisner, then CEO. Five years later and during a plan called “Save Disney”, the son of Disney founder Roy E. Disney teamed up with several members of the Board of Directors to oust Michael Eisner and replace him with Bob Iger. For fifteen years, until November 20, 2020. A year earlier, Bob Iger resigned himself to not remaining on Apple’s board of directors, so as not to put himself in a conflict of interest situation (Apple proposing a platform competing with Disney+, Apple TV+).

Pixar, LucasFilm, Marvel

During his fifteen years as boss of the Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger transformed the company. In particular with its many takeovers of emblematic studios. The first, on January 24, 2006, was Pixar, for $7.4 billion. Roy E. Disney, in a statement that same year, expressed his full support and encouragement to the boss in his strategy:

“Animation has always been the heart and soul of The Walt Disney Company, and it’s wonderful to see Bob Iger and company making that legacy his own by bringing home the exceptional animation talent of the Pixar team. . This clearly reinforces The Walt Disney Company’s position as the dominant leader in motion picture animation and we applaud and support Bob Iger’s vision.”

It was in 2009 that Bob Iger realized what will remain in history “Disney’s Best Deal”. Marvel Studios, for $4 billion. A great blow that still benefits society more than ten years later. Three years later, in 2012, Disney recovered the Star Wars and Indiana Jones licenses by buying out LucasFilm, also for $4 billion.

2 year break

From February 2020 to November 21, 2022. This is the duration of the “vacation” of the boss of Disney, who returns by surprise to the head of the company this Monday. The announcement was surprising as in 2020, Bob Iger confirmed that he was leaving Disney for good. “It is with an incredible sense of gratitude and humility – and, I must admit, a bit of amazement – ​​that I write to you this evening to announce my return to The Walt Disney Company as Chief Executive Officer”, he wrote. Now, his renewed contract will see the entrepreneur run Disney for 2 years.

Board Chair Susan Arnold retains her role and thanked Bob Chapek in a statement, saying: “We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including leading the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic.”

“I am an optimist”

Motivate the troops. This is the angle that Bob Iger took in his letter to the members of the Board of Directors and the employees of the company. While keeping in mind that the work to redress the bar will most certainly involve further budget cuts, he declared that he remained “an optimist”. He added: “If I’ve learned one thing from my years at Disney, it’s that even in the face of uncertainty — and perhaps especially in the face of uncertainty — our people achieve the impossible.” Next month, Disney will unveil the second installment of Avatar.

From 48 to 257 billion dollars

If Bob Iger finds his role at the head of Disney today, it is with a much smaller company that he will have to operate. Last Friday, November 18, at the close of the markets, the company weighed for 167 billion dollars on the stock market. During his career, the man had taken the entertainment giant to its heights. Its capitalization had gone from 48 billion to no less than 257 billion dollars.

Addressing the employees one last time before giving them an appointment for the next few days to find out more about the rest, Bob Iger wrote: “Thanks to you, Disney holds a special place in the hearts of people around the world, and your dedication to this company and its mission of bringing joy to people through great stories , is an inspiration to me every day”.


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