Board Room Coups and Workforce Blues - Disney’s woes persist into the new year


Jacob Upright discusses the tumult facing the iconic American firm.

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Image by Kaleeb18

By Jacob Upright

The disastrous comedy act that was Bob Chapek at the helm of Disney came to a close late last year when long-time member of entertainment nobility, Bob Iger, retook his position as CEO of the Walt Disney Company.

After months of falling share prices – at the time of Chapek’s ousting, Disney’s stock was down 40% since the beginning of 2022 - and unnecessary, expensive, reorganisations, it came as a welcome relief when Disney’s board of directors finally ousted the now ex-CEO after just two years at the company’s helm. It seems that a long-term campaign against Chapek had been underway since June 2022; most notably, Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy is known to have been one of the Iger loyalists desperate to see ‘the old Bob’ return. The straw that broke the camel’s back, it seems, was the disastrous November earnings report which saw streaming service Disney+ put a $1.5 Billion hole in Disney’s books; the board of directors had no choice but to force Chapek out.

Iger himself has a history of success at the entertainment behemoth. His first 15-year term as CEO oversaw the acquisition of profitable subsidiaries such as Marvel, Pixar, and ESPN. Many investors thought that the return of the Iger days would finally end the disastrous rout in Disney’s stock and return stability to the Disney executive. However, recent reports suggest that since his return, Iger has been subject to a board room revolt. Staff and shareholders who were upset with the way in which Chapek was forced out have purportedly been aggravated by Iger’s aggressive leadership style; on Iger’s first day back in the job he fired Chapek arch-loyalist Kareem Daniels, head of oversight for Disney’s streaming services.

In more recent times, Iger has had to see off further rebellions as he seeks to cut 7000 jobs across the company. The returning CEO is looking to restructure the company in a move that Iger asserts ‘puts decision-making back in the hands of our creative teams and rationalises costs’. The shakeup comes as Disney’s positive Q1 2023 earnings report shows that the new CEO has already delivered an improvement in Disney’s top and bottom lines, due in part to the increase in revenues from its Parks and Experiences division.

Whether Iger’s restructuring gamble will pay off is yet to be seen, but with a 20% Year To Date increase in the stock, it seems that investors are betting big on Iger’s ability to fend off further attacks from the Chapek camp and to deliver upon his grand visions for Disney.