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Bob Iger Makes Surprise Return as Walt Disney Company CEO

After two years away from the House of Mouse, Iger is back to lead the entertainment giant through its next growth stage.

Some say magic is back at Disney with the return of a longtime leader.

Bob Iger was reinstated as CEO of the Walt Disney Company on Monday, effective immediately, following Bob Chapek’s decision to step down from the post.

Iger now succeeds Chapek, the CEO successor he hand-picked following his initial tenure in the role from 2005 to 2020. Altogether, Iger spent more than 30 years working in various senior and executive roles at the entertainment, media, and hospitality empire before his departure. Iger first left his CEO post in 2020, but served as Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board through 2021 — in all actuality, he hasn’t been away that long, but he’s eager to be back.

“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,” Iger said in an official news release. “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.”

Iger agreed to serve as Disney’s CEO for two years while working closely with its Board of Directors to pick the company’s next (hopefully long-term) successor. Susan Arnold will continue to lead the Board as Chairwoman through this process.

Iger’s return comes after Chapek took over as CEO of Disney just weeks before the pandemic hit in February 2020. Some of Chapek’s decisions and leadership tactics have drawn criticism in the past two years, including opting to hike prices at Disney parks and the Disney+ streaming service. Chapek also planned a hiring freeze, layoffs, and additional cost-cutting measures at Disney before leaving his post.

It’s unclear if Iger will follow through with some or all of Chapek’s intended cuts to the workforce and overall costs, but we do know that these once-close executives don’t see eye-to-eye as it relates to running Disney’s various operations and assets.

“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” Arnold said in a statement. “The Board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely situated to lead the Company through this pivotal period.”

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About The Author
Michelai Graham
Michelai Graham
Michelai Graham is Boardroom's resident tech and crypto reporter. Before joining 35V, she was a freelance reporter with bylines in AfroTech, HubSpot, The Plug, and Lifewire, to name a few. At Boardroom, Michelai covers Web3, NFTs, crypto, tech, and gaming. Off the clock, you can find her producing her crime podcast, The Point of No Return.