When Disney CEO Bob Iger returned to take on the position for a second time in 2022, everyone — fans included — had high hopes.
After the pandemic, things started to slowly spiral downhill for a lot of media giants — Disney included. For starters, the relatively new Disney+ was expensive to build, and the revenue wasn’t rolling in like Disney had hoped, and theme park revenue and attendance were down because of COVID-19. Bob Iger, who’d recently retired from his position as CEO and was serving as a chairman, seemed to be the company’s only hope. So, in November 2022, he was back in the position. Now, over a year later, some analysts believe Disney doesn’t seem to be much better, although Iger has shared his hopes to make a profit again by the end of fiscal 2024. A former executive has chimed in.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) shared an article in which they compared Iger to former Disney CEO Michael Eisner. In many ways, they are the same: they had a great few years as CEO, stakeholders and fans alike were rooting for them, and things seemed to be on the up and up.
However, after a few years, things started to decline for both of these CEOs. In reference to former CEO Michael Eisner, WSJ said, “After more than a decade in which he had revived the fabled Disney brand and appeared untouchable, he lost momentum and his leadership descended into controversy and financial decline. He eventually stepped down following a shareholder rebellion.”
Iger replaced Eisner in October of 2005, and in 2022, Iger was confident that Bob Chapek could continue to turn things around post-pandemic. After Chapek implemented a series of changes that left many Disney fans upset, The Walt Disney Company pivoted once again. In 2022, Iger returned, as folks were confident in his ability to lead the company based on his previous run.
Well, based on the past few earnings calls, things still aren’t looking too great. Even IF Disney does begin to make a profit in the box office, within streaming, and in the Parks and Experiences again like they’re projecting, Disney owes money to a lot of folks. Disney is still paying off its acquisition of 20th Century Fox, and in 2023, Disney finalized the acquisition of the remaining shares in Hulu. (To put things into perspective, Disney still isn’t generating a profit but agreed to an $8.61 BILLION deal to acquire the remaining Hulu shares.) Whew!
Investor Nelson Peltz stated that Iger’s actions so far — from job cuts to cost savings to reviews — are inadequate. His investment partner Isaac Ike Perlmutter, former Marvel entertainment chairman, said, “Iger is a copy of Eisner. The entire board is his friends.” He went on to say that the entire board needed to be restructured so that it’s more independent.
Another spot where Iger and Eisner compare is their succession situation. Although Iger did end up succeeding Eisner, WSJ reports that there was a lengthy bit of time when Eisner didn’t have clarity on the best option for a successor — similar to where Iger stands now. However, where the two differ, according to former Disney chief financial officer Gary Wilson, Iger has all but soiled his chances of finding a suitable successor.
Wilson said, “Iger has systematically eliminated any executive who could become a successor. To me it’s a real black mark on Iger’s record.”
Another place where the two differ is that in 2004 and 2005, Eisner didn’t have to consider things like streaming platforms, direct-to-consumer within streaming, or streaming competitors like Apple or Amazon, who, according to WSJ and Wilson, aren’t under the same amount of pressure to create a streaming solution that actually WORKS to generate revenue.
Executives have predicted who Iger’s successor will be, and we could find out who that person is as early as THIS year. Although Iger’s contract won’t end until 2026, championing and training an executive to take on the role of CEO is no small feat and could take over a year. Hopefully, Iger will take after Eisner once again and find a fresh face to take on the position and turn things around.
We’ll be sure to keep you updated with more Disney news, so make sure to follow along for more so that you never miss a thing.
What do you think of the Eisner and Iger comparison? Let us know in the comments!
The post “Iger Is a Copy of Eisner” — Is Disney’s CEO Just Repeating History? first appeared on the disney food blog.