“When Bob Iger takes over the handle”

VSn Sunday, November 20, a good number of Disney executives had settled in the best seats in Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles to attend the Elton John concert sponsored and broadcast by Disney +. Suddenly, an email from an old acquaintance, former CEO Bob Iger, appears on their cell phone. He tells them of his joy at returning to the head of the company. This is how business is sometimes done in the land of the blue dream, in haste and brutality.

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Recovered from their emotions, many executives of the company seem satisfied to see their former boss return to the controls for fifteen years, haloed by the unprecedented explosion of the cinematographic offer of the world leader in media, with the acquisitions of the Pixar studios , Marvel or Fox, as well as the offensive in the Internet with the Disney + service. And incidentally the multiplication by 5 of the stock market price.

His successor, Bob Chapek, who arrived in early 2020, had for his part largely worked to make himself hated by his teams, Hollywood stars, his board of directors and investors. A veteran of marketing and merchandising, he didn’t much care for film and creatives, abruptly laid off thousands of employees during the health crisis and had to recognize a colossal loss in the consumer division that hosts Disney+.

Talent for making enemies

But all of that is only half the story. Firstly because it was the first Bob (Iger) who chose the second (Chapek). Then because the latter’s contract was renewed barely five months ago by the board of directors, claiming that he was the right man in the right place. He now shows her the door as if finding out the situation. Finally, we learn by FinancialTimes of November 24 that Bob Iger, who was spreading the happiness of his new life everywhere, had not cut the tie.

He had remained an “advisor” for the company and paid nearly 2 million dollars a year (1.91 million euros) for this. An investment which was not very profitable for the company since the former boss quickly complained of not being listened to by the new, more in a hurry to kill the father than to follow his recommendations, in particular by centralizing at the extreme decision-making, including that of creative people.

Bob Chapek definitely had a talent for making enemies. Curious that neither the former CEO nor the current board of directors realized this before. This reveals flawed governance as activist investors rave about. Like the cartoon vultures of the firm, they landed at the entrance to the board, demanding the sale of entire divisions to raise the stock market.

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