Disney vs. the Battle of the Bobs
Imagine you’re Bob Iger. You relinquish Disney’s CEO suite in 2020 with a sterling legacy intact. Smart, game-changing acquisitions. A good culture. Steady, imaginative leadership. Soaring profits and a jumbo stock price. And a sort of bet-the-ranch move into streaming that puts profit-making aside in favor of reinventing the entertainment platform your business rests upon. All is going swimmingly when you turn things over to your successor, Bob Chapek. You title your autobiography “The Ride of a Lifetime.” What a way to go. Then, boom. Covid lockdowns hit just weeks after you step down. Disney’s business sputters. Chapek alienates your team and the board. And that streaming bet unravels. What do you do? You roll back in as CEO less than three years after you left the company. Chapek is pushed out. How often does something like that happen? Like, never. Even Steve Jobs waited 11 years to make his roundtrip as Apple’s CEO.
There are lots of collisions to sort out here. That’s why I rang up my pal at Bloomberg Opinion, Beth Kowitt. Beth’s a veteran business writer and she spends a lot of time thinking about the mysteries of corporate America.
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