Disney’s Boomerang CEO

Image from Travel Market Report

Tanaya Gadre (’24) | Feb 24, 2023

In November 2022, Walt Disney brought back Bob Iger as CEO replacing Bob Chapek. Iger was the most successful leader in the history of the company acquiring major brands like Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm (the home to Star Wars) during his 15-year tenure. He was instrumental in creating Disney+ before stepping down in 2020. During his two years away, the pandemic briefly shut down all theme parks and theaters causing a controversial stock plummet of 37%.

The return of the boomerang CEO has already begun repairing investor confidence by announcing a restoration of dividends. This decision coupled with Iger’s strong reputation hiked stock prices up 6%. Although things seem bullish for investors, employees may not be quite as optimistic. Iger’s eager strategies of building Disney back up involved a dramatic restructuring to cut costs leading to 7,000 layoffs along with a complete hiring freeze. All current hybrid employees are also expected to be back in the office for a 4-day week from April 2023.

Bob Iger at Disney’s California Adventure, Image from Walt’s Folly

Disney fans are in for a rollercoaster of a year! Disney is pushing for a content-heavy year but is most likely to raise their subscription prices. Iger strongly disagrees with Disney’s recent approach (under Chapek’s leadership) of prioritizing user growth over profitability. The only prices likely to drop to attract volume are of the theme parks that have been turning up a historical profit. Disney in 2023 has become an important case study to showcase the power of leadership.

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