The C-Suite Disney Drama Was Seemingly Much Worse Than Anyone Knew


A “tell-all” piece from The Wall Street Journal is “spilling the tea” about what happened behind the scenes at the Walt Disney Company that led up to the ousting of CEO Bob Chapek. Looking at the alleged details, backstabbing and ostracization it feels like it could be a show on the CW or Freeform.

From the beginning of being named CEO it felt to Bob Chapek, and other staff, that Bob Iger still felt he was in charge. Even the WSJ article stated that Iger would have meetings offsite that didn’t include Chapek. This led Chapek to believe that Iger felt people worked for him and not the CEO.

That Mr. Iger was unhappy with Mr. Chapek is well established. Less well known is the depth of his antipathy and the lengths he went to deflate Mr. Chapek behind the scenes.

Mr. Iger, then still under contract as executive chairman, didn’t move out of the office he kept at Disney’s headquarters in Burbank, Calif. He called strategy meetings with Mr. Chapek’s underlings without inviting the new CEO.
Mr. Chapek told friends that Mr. Iger’s attitude seemed to be: “They work for me, not for you.”
To be fair, I could see why Chapek felt that way. It’s indicative of the fact that Bob Iger is not innocent in Disney’s fall. A lot of his original choices have led to where the company is today. Chapek made many mistakes himself, but he is being blamed for things that were done by Iger as well as bad choices he made.

McCarthy seemingly stayed loyal to Bob Iger but Chapek may have pushed her too far.

According to the article not only did CFO Christine McCarthy go to the Board Chair, Susan Arnold, she allegedly went to Bob Iger first and asked him if he would come back.

Ms. McCarthy, the Disney CFO, was fed up with Mr. Chapek’s performance and leadership, and she turned to the one person she believed could dislodge him….Ms. McCarthy called to ask Mr. Iger if he would consider returning. He said he would. Two days later, Board Chair Susan Arnold offered him the job, knowing he would likely accept.

So now Chapek faced being cut out of meetings as CEO and then his CFO went behind his back and had him removed as well.

Why would she do that?

The answer could be in how Chapek was allegedly treating the CFO behind the scenes.

The Wall Street Journal says that the relationship between CEO and CFO was not a good one. Chapek felt that in a previous call McCarthy had presented numbers he wasn’t aware of to make him look bad.

Then Chapek started to not include the CFO:

By October, relations between Ms. McCarthy and Mr. Chapek were so frayed that he didn’t include her in a board meeting. He also told executives that she had lost focus, distracted by her husband’s ailing health, and had become unstable, comments repeated to some Disney directors. Ms. McCarthy learned about it from colleagues.

Implying guests would appreciate smaller portion sizes because the food wouldn’t go to their waistlines wasn’t exactly a stable comment. But it was no worse that Bob Chapek saying Disneyland Passholders created an “unfavorable attendance mix.” (They said the quiet, closed door, meeting, parts out loud.)

The article also alleges that executives called up Bob Iger about Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts; and Alan Bergman, Chairman of Disney Studios Content, and said they were worried they would quit the company.  Chapek had already fired Peter Rice out of nowhere. Who would be next?

As the environment inside Disney’s C-suite worsened, more executives voiced concerns in phone calls to Mr. Iger. Some worried Alan Bergman, the studio chief, and Josh D’Amaro, head of the parks division, might quit.

Hearing it all it feels like some sort of dysfunctional family drama where everyone was tattling to “dad” to get rid of their new “step-mom.”

Pointing fingers at just one CEO seems unfair when you hear about all the drama going on the entire time. If the executives at the Walt Disney Company spent more time doing their jobs and working on customer satisfaction, instead of acting like high schooler cliques, all while taking bonuses, the company wouldn’t be in this situation.

You can read more about it all at the Wall Street Journal.

What do you think? Comment and let us know!

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