Former Disney CEO Bob Iger Was Unhappy With Chapek Succession Say Insiders
There has been much speculation since current Disney CEO Bob Chapek took over the helm from Bob Iger that the transition from one leader to another was anything but smooth. A recent article in the Business Insider is taking it one step further saying that Iger has called selecting Bob Chapek as his successor as “one of his worst business decisions.”
This comes just a few weeks after the Disney Board of Directors voted to extend Chapek’s contract for three more years.
So what happened to create the rift between Iger and Chapek? According to Insider, it was originally Iger’s intention to have Chapek report directly two him in his new role as CEO providing time for Iger (in his role as Executive Chairman) to mentor Chapek. However, this did not go according to plan.
Iger and Chapek apparently had different ideas on a myriad of different aspects of the company including Disney’s response to COVID, company structures and even politics. According to insiders, the two CEOs even had different advisory teams and would work against one another when it came to making key decisions during the transition.
Since officially leaving the company Iger has been vocal both within the industry and in some instances on social media when it comes to criticizing decisions Chapek has made including the contract dispute with Scarlett Johansson, the exit of executive Peter Rice and Disney’s response to the “Don’t Say Gay.” legistlation.
Reports are also coming in that both CEOs recently attended a business mogul retreat and that they exchanged greetings but that was it.
Many of those in the Disney-sphere were suprised at Iger’s about face in February 2020. Previously the leader expressed his desire for a gradual transition of CEOs as he eased into retirement. However, in early 2020 Iger quit effective immediately.
An executive within the company told Insider that the abrupt departure was due in part to increased friction with Chapek saying, “The board was surprised; it was several months before his departure date.”
Some of the tension between Iger and Chapek was a result of what the Board felt was not a cohesive plan for a smooth transition of power. According to a former Disney executive, “The board was harassing Bob about his succession plan and his planning was a notable failure.”
Iger wanted to follow in the footsteps of Nike upper management where Mark Parker stepped down from the CEO role. He became executive chairman while the new CEO got their bearings. The Disney board however wasn’t onboard with this plan suggesting instead that Iger stay on as CEO and make Chapek Chief Operating Officer.
As a result, Iger ultimately balked under the pressure to make a decision regarding his departure which hastened his leave. This left Chapek to take over quickly as Iger’s successor However, according to Business Insider, “He (Iger) greatly regretted it as soon as COVID hit.”
After 47 years with the Walt Disney Company, Iger was hoping to leave a Legacy but with Chapek’s new way of doing things, Iger is feeling disappointed. At the same time, the board, in extending Chapek’s contract are standing behind their new company head.
According to Business Insider, morale in upper management at the company remains low. Disney share prices have also fallen 41% year-to-date.
As Iger watches from the sidelines, those that know the exec say that he is surprised at Chapek’s mishandling of talent management, political issues and more. Couple this with reports that Chapek is determined to do things his way and it’s easy to see how things might be rocky.
As a person within the company says, “For many of us who are deeply loyal to him, Iger’s choice of Chapek was confusing. No one expected it to fall apart this fast.”
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Source: Business Insider