Bob Iger Takes CEO Responsibilities Back from Chapek, Disney Company Downsizing Expected Once Dust Settles from Pandemic According to New York Times

The Walt Disney Company has seen a number of changes in quick succession in the past few weeks, from appointing Bob Chapek as new CEO to facing the crippling economic effects of the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Throughout the current crisis, however, only one voice from the upper echelons of the company has spoken out, and that’s former CEO Bob Iger. A recent post by the New York Times delves deeper into the current circumstances surrounding leadership at Disney, from Bob Chapek’s deafening silence to the potential of a downsizing and restructuring within the company.

In the New York Times piece by Ben Smith, he covers how Bob Iger, in an attempt to transition into retirement, has been faced with reasserting control and reimagining Disney in a time of crisis. Essentially, he’s quietly taken back his responsibilities while Chapek is still CEO:

“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.”

With the pandemic wreaking havoc on the economy and still no opening date in sight for many Disney Parks, Iger has commented on new health and safety screening measures for guests at the parks. The Times piece goes on to infer that the company will be downsizing following the pandemic to streamline its operations and be better prepared to weather a similar situation down the road:

“Mr. Iger, meanwhile, is trying to figure out what the company will look like after the crisis. One central challenge is to establish best practices for the company and the industry on how to bring people back to the parks and rides while avoiding the virus’s spread — using measures like taking visitors’ temperatures.

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.)”

The full piece goes into far greater detail and can be read in full here.