Yes Bob Iger Is Still Running Disney. No, He’s Not CEO. He’s Been In Charge the Whole Time

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Bob Iger is acting as CEO of the Walt Disney Company. The only surprise I have is that people didn’t notice this before the New York Times mentioned it.  He’s been.

Disney suddenly took Bob Iger’s CEO position and transitioned it to Bob Chapek on February 25, 2020. After the initial media circus, and one investor meeting, when it was both Bob’s and not just Chapek, presenting, we haven’t heard much about the “new” CEO.

When all the decisions came down and everything started closing as the Coronavirus Pandemic hit, it was Bob Iger who was talking to California governor, Gavin Newsom about trying to keep Disneyland open, even with orders to close everything else.  When there are interviews about the parks and what could happen when they reopen it is Iger not Chapek that you have heard from.

So again, why is anyone surprised? It’s been this way the whole time. 

Fast Forward to the New York Times article from yesterday.

First of all I want to point out that one thing we mentioned on our sister YouTube channel, Clownfish TV, was that I thought they made the announcement when they did because it could hit the stock market when it was already plummeting in an attempt to mitigate the damages.

Apparently the New York Times agreed!

“They finalized the arrangement even as the stock market began to shudder. And on Feb. 25, they shocked Hollywood with the news that Mr. Iger’s 15-year run had ended.”

But now the “news” is that Bob Iger has “returned” but I argue he’s never left.

Even the article states that a “Disney Spokeswoman declined to make Mr. Chapek available for an interview.

But Iger apparently was.

The article continued:

“And now, Mr. Iger has effectively returned to running the company. After a few weeks of letting Mr. Chapek take charge, Mr. Iger smoothly reasserted control, BlueJeans video call by BlueJeans video call. (Disney does not use Zoom for its meetings for security reasons.)

The new, nominal chief executive is referred to, almost kindergarten style, as “Bob C,” while Mr. Iger is still just “Bob.” And his title is “executive chairman” — emphasis on the first word.

Mr. Iger is now intensely focused on remaking a company that will emerge, he believes, deeply changed by the crisis. The sketch he has drawn for associates offers a glimpse at the post-pandemic future: It’s a Disney with fewer employees, leading the new and uncertain business of how to gather people safely for entertainment.”

We also stated on both PNP and Clownfish TV that we thought there would be “leaner” Disney moving forward. Now everyone is talking about how Disney will have fewer employees.

We do expect changes and have said as much. Apparently Bob Iger does as well:

“Mr. Iger also sees this as a moment, he has told associates, to look across the business and permanently change how it operates. He’s told them that he anticipates ending expensive old-school television practices like advertising upfronts and producing pilots for programs that may never air. Disney is also likely to reopen with less office space. He’s also told two people that he anticipated the company having fewer employees. (Mr. Iger said in an email on Sunday evening that he had “no recollection of ever having said” that he expected a smaller work force. “Regardless, any decision about staff reductions will be made by my successor and not me,” he added.)”

Staff reductions were going to happen. I do find it interesting that he is “in charge” for all of it except the really “bad news” for employees, then it’s his “successor’s” problem. I did notice he didn’t say Bob Chapek there, just “successor.”

It’s also interesting to note that the article mentioned Chapek’s concern about perception of his performance:

“One person close to the company said Mr. Iger assured Mr. Chapek that the extraordinary circumstances would be taken into consideration in the board’s evaluation of Mr. Chapek’s performance. But in reality, two hard, unpredictable years will determine if he can hold the job. Two other executives who were passed over for Mr. Chapek — Kevin Mayer and Peter Rice — remain at the company. Nobody knows when Americans will go to the movies again, much less get on cruise ships.”

How can we gauge Chapek’s performance? It sounds like he was never given the opportunity to perform.

Even after all of this Bob Iger is not saying he’s the CEO.

“A crisis of this magnitude, and its impact on Disney, would necessarily result in my actively helping Bob [Chapek] and the company contend with it, particularly since I ran the company for 15 years!”

It’s going to get even more interesting as we progress through this closure. As we have been saying, we expect Disney to look different on the other side of this, but now it seems even Bob Iger is saying it now.

What do you think? Comment and let us know.

Source: New York Times


Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered blog that objectively covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.



Kambrea Pratt
Disney has been a big part of my life for years--from family trips to WDW to growing up on Disney classics, TV, and movies. Prior to Pirates and Princesses I successfully ran social media and websites since 2010. I've also been a public speaker and presenter since 2007. I'm the co-host for the YouTube channel Clownfish TV as well as the podcast/ Youtube Pirates and Princesses (PNP) channel. Former contributor, online personality and acting social media manager at The Kingdom Insider (which we built from the ground up and ran from 2017-2019 --Thom didn't quit FYI) Pirates and Princesses was started by my husband and I several years ago. We loved Disney and wanted to honestly cover all aspects from pop-culture to the parks from a consumer focused stance. Living OUR happily ever after getting to do what we love with our two kids! Creating fun content and building new things. Certified art teacher, and mom. Opinions are all mine.