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25 Nov 2022

Bob Iger's return to Disney sparks major restructuring focused on creativity and storytelling
BY Tom Walker

Within 24 hours of his re-appointment, Iger has made it clear that the company is set for a shake-up

Within 24 hours of his re-appointment, Iger has made it clear that the company is set for a shake-up
photo: Disney

Disney is set to undergo a "major restructuring" following the shock return of CEO Bob Iger.

Iger, who steered Disney as CEO from 2005 until 2020 – when his contract expired – returned to the entertainment giant this week.

His return follows the exit of Bob Chapek, who took over as Disney CEO from Iger in February 2020 – just as the COVID-19 pandemic began hitting the entertainment and visitor attraction industry hard.

The Financial Times is reporting that Disney had already paid Iger a US$10m consultancy fee in a bid to support Chapek last year.

Within 24 hours of his re-appointment, Iger made it clear that the company is set for a shake-up.

This was signalled by the exit of Kareem Daniel, the head of Disney's media and entertainment distribution division, who was seen as a key Chapek ally.

In an email sent to employees, Iger said he plans to restructure things "in a way that honours and respects creativity" and places storytelling at the heart of operations.

“I am extremely optimistic for the future of this great company and thrilled to be asked by the Board to return as its CEO,” Iger said.

“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.”

During his 15 years as CEO, Iger helped build Disney into one of the world’s most successful media and entertainment companies with a strategic vision focused on creative excellence, technological innovation and international growth.

He expanded on Disney’s legacy of storytelling with the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox.

The themed entertainment industry has praised the return to storytelling and creativity, with Meow Wolf's Vince Kadlubek saying: "100% – for a creative company, storytelling is everything.

"Disney has been a monumental influence to so many of us. The art and storytelling inspired generations.

"Yes, it ultimately inspired Meow Wolf, but as art and storytelling became a byproduct of business metrics, rather than the other way around, the affinity to the Disney brand flipped and bringing up the name “Disney” to most artists would get an eye-roll, so this shift back to creativity by one of the greatest business leaders of our time is so refreshing to see – hopefully it produces incredible projects.

"Can Disney be original again? Can it be unprecedented? Can it take risks? Can it be surprising?" said Kadlubek. "That’d be amazing to see! I’m cheering for Disney and can’t wait to see what they can do when creativity leads again."


READ BOB IGER'S MESSAGE TO THE DISNEY TEAM IN FULL

Dear Fellow Employees and Cast Members,

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 with the news that I am returning to The Walt Disney Company as Chief Executive Officer.

When I look at the creative success of our teams across our Studios, Disney General Entertainment, ESPN and International, the rapid growth of our streaming services, the phenomenal reimagining and rebound of our parks, the continued great work of ABC News, and so many other achievements across our businesses, I am in awe of your accomplishments and I am excited to embark with you on many new endeavors.

I know this company has asked so much of you during the past three years, and these times certainly remain quite challenging, but as you have heard me say before, I am an optimist, and if I learned one thing from my years at Disney, it is that even in the face of uncertainty – perhaps especially in the face of uncertainty – our employees and cast members achieve the impossible.

You will be hearing more from me and your leaders tomorrow and in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, allow me to express my deep gratitude for all that you do. Disney holds a special place in the hearts of people around the globe thanks to you, and your dedication to this company and its mission to bring joy to people through great storytelling is an inspiration to me every single day.

Bob Iger



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