Disney Headlines for December 7th, 2022
Wait, Bob Chapek was listening to WHO? And how was The Walt Disney Company’s CFO involved?
The reveals are coming fast and furious about the Chapek regime, and they’re not pretty.
We have some infuriating news in the latest Disney Headlines.
Disney Wasn’t Calling the Shots?
Why was Bob Chapek fired as Disney’s CEO? That’s a nuanced question with no single answer.
In truth, Chapek provided any number of reasons that his job performance wasn’t up to snuff.
Still, a Wall Street Journal report this week proved particularly enlightening. I say this because it validated the belief that Chapek didn’t view Disney as special.
Instead, Chapek apparently intended to run Disney like any other major corporation, which frankly misses the point of our favorite company.
Specifically, Chapek sought to strip power from the executives running the various content creation portions of the Disney empire.
Basically, Chapek chose the opposite of what Bob Iger did. Disney’s current CEO earned his reputation for empowering executives.
In fact, if not for Iger’s managerial style, nobody would even know who Bob Chapek is. That’s just the reality of the situation.
Iger enabled Chapek’s ascension by giving the latter executive a wide berth in running Disney’s video and theme park empires.
Chapek took a stubbornly different approach by shutting out virtually all Disney executives.
We may never know whether Chapek did this out of fear that they remained loyal to Iger, but it’s now indisputable that he adopted this pattern.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Chapek wanted the Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution (DMED) unit to control the company’s marketing spend.
At first, Chapek integrated the units such that Kareem Daniel decided on all Disney content, which was peculiar in and of itself.
Now, we know that Chapek took this approach to an even more dramatic degree.
Disney tried to take all decision-making out of the hands of its division heads. Yes, I’m serious.
To understand, I’ll need to explain how the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. and CFO Christine McCarthy come into play. It’s…odd.
Outsourcing Budget Decisions???
So, here’s what happened. Disney’s CFO approached Chapek and Disney’s Board of Directors with a bold but questionable plan.
McCarthy wanted to cut costs throughout the Disney empire, and one of her primary strategies involved removing duplicate job duties.
You’re likely familiar with the term “redundancy” when it comes to corporations.
During the maintenance phase of a company’s existence, job assignments often grow murky. That’s particularly true during times of acquisition.
For example, when Disney swallowed most Fox assets, many television and movie executives lost their jobs.
Disney already had its own people for creating content. Those individuals were familiar with the Disney way of doing things. So, the Fox people weren’t needed.
Well, the same issue applies to reorganizations. Companies reassign tasks, often in the sloppiest manner possible. At this point, multiple parties are kind of doing the same thing.
So, the corporate philosophy involves thinning the herd by eliminating such jobs.
As a reminder, depending on how loose we are with the definition, Disney has gone through up to three reorgs in the past three years.
McCarthy got the bright idea to check for redundancies everywhere in the company. However, she apparently wasn’t willing to do it herself.
Instead, Chapek hired McKinsey & Co. to decide who got to stay at Disney vs. who had to go.
Specifically, Disney gave an outside party cost-cutting power. McKinsey & Co. also spoke with Chapek and McCarthy regarding those marketing spends.
In short, Bob Chapek, the CEO of Disney, trusted strangers at a different company to decide Disney’s staff and marketing budget more than he did his own executives.
Please take a moment to appreciate the ridiculousness of that.
“Curse Your Sudden But Inevitable Betrayal”
The Firefly pilot once said this line of dialogue, and it’s stuck with me ever since whenever I know two parties are gonna turn on one another.
In the case of Disney’s c-suite, there was a backstabbing I was awaiting for a while. However, it didn’t play out the way I’d expected.
Chapek suffered enough PR problems of his own. He didn’t need his CFO to make unforced errors for him. But that’s what McCarthy did multiple times.
So, I presumed he would eventually use her as the victim when he needed to throw someone under the bus.
Apparently, McCarthy recognized this as well. So, she did her best Seth Rollins/The Shield impression by turning on him first.
Remember how I said that McCarthy came up with the idea to use the outside company? And how Disney’s Board of Directors approved?
When the time came, Disney executives predictably revolted. From their perspective, Chapek had stripped them of power twice already.
The first time occurred with Kareem Daniel’s promotion to head of content. Then, Disney’s streamlining into two core businesses totally neutered many of them.
Finally, word spread that a third-party entity was choosing how marketing spends would work on television series and films. That was a bridge too far.
The impacted executives screamed bloody murder and aired their grievances with the Board.
Several started taking calls to leave Disney and work elsewhere. The turmoil grew that extreme behind the scenes.
At this point, McCarthy shoved Chapek into traffic before he could do the same to her. She told the Board that she had lost faith in Disney’s CEO.
That’s some high-level corporate intrigue right there. And it worked! The Board recognized it faced a real chance of staff revolt.
For this reason, the Chairperson of the Board accepted that Chapek’s situation had grown untenable. She reached out to Iger, who happily returned.
Meanwhile, we’re witnessing an odd series of articles that specifically praise McCarthy. Without editorializing too much, I find those wildly suspicious.
Still, the end result is that McCarthy’s position at Disney appears safe, at least for now. Meanwhile, Chapek has been tossed out of the building.
Iger is back in the fold, and any talk of McKinsey & Co.’s suggestions has suddenly stopped.
A seasoned CEO like Bob Iger isn’t going to let outsiders determine what happens to Disney. It’s stunning that Chapek tried such an amateur move.
For his part, Iger has also reset the DMED structure by restoring power to the executives that Chapek had previously neutralized.
Disney has confirmed it’ll spend hundreds of millions of dollars restructuring due to the odd series of events.
Chapek restructured Disney in his image. Then, he switched Disney’s identity into a digital company. Finally, he streamlined the org chart.
Now, Iger has returned Disney to the way it was at the end of 2019, the time before the pandemic.
If you work as a Disney executive, you’re probably suffering from low morale due to all the changes…but at least you know Iger is back!
Seriously, though, I cannot believe that Bob Chapek outsourced Disney’s corporate decision-making to this degree. It borders on malfeasance.
Also, I’m shocked and rather impressed that McCarthy got to Chapek before he threw her under the bus.
Thanks for visiting MickeyBlog.com! Want to go to Disney? For a FREE quote on your next Disney vacation, please fill out the form below and one of the agents from MickeyTravels, a Platinum level Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, will be in touch soon!
Feature Photo: Credit: AP