Disney insider WDW Pro recently speculated on why he believes The Walt Disney Company axed Bob Chapek just months after renewing his contract as CEO through 2025.
At the end of June, “The Walt Disney Company Board of Directors unanimously voted to extend Bob Chapek’s contract as Chief Executive Officer for three years.”
Chairman of the Board Susan Arnold explained, “Disney was dealt a tough hand by the pandemic, yet with Bob at the helm, our businesses—from parks to streaming—not only weathered the storm, but emerged in a position of strength.”
She added, “In this important time of growth and transformation, the Board is committed to keeping Disney on the successful path it is on today, and Bob’s leadership is key to achieving that goal. Bob is the right leader at the right time for The Walt Disney Company, and the Board has full confidence in him and his leadership team.”
However, on Sunday, Chapek was given his walking papers and his predecessor Bob Iger was announced as the new CEO.
A press release stated, “The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) announced today that Robert A. Iger is returning to lead Disney as Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Mr. Iger, who spent more than four decades at the Company, including 15 years as its CEO, has agreed to serve as Disney’s CEO for two years, with a mandate from the Board to set the strategic direction for renewed growth and to work closely with the Board in developing a successor to lead the Company at the completion of his term. Mr. Iger succeeds Bob Chapek, who has stepped down from his position.”
Discussing the move to fire Chapek and bring back Iger, Disney insider WDW Pro appeared on Midnight’s Edge and speculated as to the cause of Chapek’s firing.
He stated, “When we see a change like this this tends to come from the institutional level. This doesn’t come from anything that’s very small.”
“So what I think probably happened is Bob Chapek — he’s got some enemies and those enemies were primarily coming out of [Latondra] Newton’s department over in HR with the DEI stuff, and that’s highly connected with ESG,” he shared.
WDW Pro continued, “And I’m going to bet that as he was looking for places to make cuts in the company that he may have crossed a threshold that he wasn’t supposed to cross. And in doing so those big three investors, we’re talking about the Vanguards, we’re talking about the Black Rocks. That they may have said to the Board we’re ready to begin reassessing our relationship with you.”
He further explained, “We’re not talking about fans who got mad about Star Wars. We’re not talking about individual investors who said I’m going to pull my $10,000 out of Disney. We’re talking about people who have the ability to say, ‘I’m pulling my billions and billions and billions that are generated through 401Ks and other things that we all have associated with you unless you get rid of this guy now.’ I think that’s what happened,” he asserted.
Midnight’s Edge host Andrew Einherjar then stated, “So to translate what you think is that Chapek went after the heart of the woke and then those institutionally pushing for it struck back big time before he got there.”
WDW Pro replied, “I think so and I think it has to be something that big.”
He then hedged, “Now, it could be others. There are other options out there on the table, but they’re things we don’t know about. So for example, you could have a situation where the Disney+ numbers are way worse than what we think. You could have situation where they’ve had the actuaries play this out on how much they’re going to lose on Disney+, but they purposefully left out recessionary forces, and so deep down they know they’re about to go through a horrible time.”
WDW Pro continued, “There could be stuff like that that could be big enough to cause this, but you really need something huge like the ESG thing, like the investor thing, or like there’s some hidden number out there that we don’t know that is catastrophically bad because otherwise why would you put in Iger for a two-year transition to somebody else?”
He then closed out his thoughts, “The Disney stock, the investors are not buying this either. The people who are most closely associated with the company and its success, they’re not buying this. So we got the pop like you would expect — predicted last night — went over a hundred dollars. It’s been drifting downward ever since. Trending down, down, down.
“So by the end of the week if it’s back around the $92 where it was, we’re still in the same place. Because nothing has changed. Everything that you see at the company right now was generated by Iger. Chapek has essentially not done anything other than Genie+ at the Walt Disney World Resort. That’s literally the thing that you can point to and say Chapek did it, but other than that this is all Iger’s company still,” he concluded.
WDW Pro is not alone in his speculation. Matthew Belloni at Puck also pointed to HR as one of the main causes for Chapek’s firing.
He stated, “I kept hearing that it was his handling of the call and its aftermath that was really questioned internally and by the board. … And I’m told that Disney’s H.R. group didn’t know that Chapek was going to mention layoffs in that memo to division leaders announcing his cost-cutting ‘task force,’ a move that predictably sounded alarm bells internally and created chaos for them.”
However, Belloni also was informed that Chapek’s ousting might be the first of many as a source told him, “Nobody survives this. Chapek is first, but all these guys will be out. Economy turned on Hollywood. Nothing he could do.”
While it’s possible Chapek ran afoul of Newton, the HR department, and their pet project Reimagine Tomorrow, Chapek appeared to be a slave to them back in February where he made it clear that he would ensure one of the company’s primary goals was to groom small children in an attempt to normalize acts of grave depravity and other disordered behaviors.
In a company-wide email in response to the state of Florida banning the instruction of gender ideology and sexual orientation in grades Kindergarten through Third Grade Chapek declared, “And because this struggle is much bigger than any one bill in any one state, I believe the best way for our company to bring about lasting change is through the inspiring content we produce, the welcoming culture we create, and the diverse community organizations we support.”
Chapek continued, “There’s a reason content is at the top of this list. For nearly a century, our company’s stories have opened minds, inspired dreams, shown the world both as it is and how we wish it could be, and now more than ever before, represent the incredible diversity of our society.”
“We are telling important stories, raising voices, and I believe, changing hearts and minds,” he added.
What do you make of WDW Pro’s speculation? Why do you think Bob Chapek was canned and Bob Iger was brought back in to replace him?