scorecardSome Disney employees were so shocked by CEO Bob Iger's return they suspected an email announcement was a scam
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Some Disney employees were so shocked by CEO Bob Iger's return they suspected an email announcement was a scam

Britney Nguyen   

Some Disney employees were so shocked by CEO Bob Iger's return they suspected an email announcement was a scam
Tech3 min read
  • Some Disney staffers thought the press release about Bob Iger's return was a scam, Variety reported.
  • Iger, who led Disney from 2005 to 2020, was asked to come back to replace current CEO Bob Chapek.

News of Bob Iger's return to Disney as CEO was a surprise to many in the media world — including some Disney employees who told Variety they thought the announcement late Sunday was an email scam.

Iger was reinstated as CEO by The Walt Disney Company board this weekend, and staff received the announcement in a press release sent to them late Sunday by the company's corporate communications team.

The news of Iger's replacement of current Disney CEO Bob Chapek came around 6:45 p.m. Pacific Time, while some top Disney leaders were at a pre-show reception at Los Angeles's Dodger Stadium for Elton John's farewell show, according to Variety.

For months, some of Disney's top creative and business leaders told the board that they would consider leaving if Chapek stayed as CEO, Insider's Claire Atkinson reported, citing a senior Disney insider.

The Disney insider said the board realized Chapek wasn't fit for the role after receiving the complaints, and that he was making decisions without having all of the information, according to the report.

Earlier this month, Disney reported that its direct-to-consumer division, which includes its streaming services Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+, had a $1.5 billion loss. The company's stock also dropped 10% over the past month, and is down around 40% over the past year.

Still, investors greeted Iger's planned return positively: The stock jumped nearly 7% by late morning trading in New York.

Iger was asked by a top Disney executive to come back, according to the Disney insider. Iger led the company from 2005 to 2020, but previously told Kara Swisher in a New York Times interview that chatter about him possibly returning to the company as CEO was "ridiculous."

His contract with Disney is for the next two years, during which he will work to find a successor along with the company's board.

"The Board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely situated to lead the Company through this pivotal period," Susan Arnold, Disney board chairman, said in a press release.

Arnold added that Iger is "greatly admired by Disney employees worldwide." Iger said he's "extremely optimistic for the future" of Disney, and is "thrilled" that he was asked by the board to come back as CEO.

"I am deeply honored to be asked to again lead this remarkable team, with a clear mission focused on creative excellence to inspire generations through unrivaled, bold storytelling," Iger said.

Here's Iger's email to employees:

Dear Fellow Employees and Cast Members,

It is with an incredible sense of gratitude and humility—and, I must admit, a bit of amazement—that I write to you this evening with the news that I am returning to The Walt Disney Company as Chief Executive Officer.

When I look at the creative success of our teams across our Studios, Disney General Entertainment, ESPN and International, the rapid growth of our streaming services, the phenomenal reimagining and rebound of our Parks, the continued great work of ABC News, and so many other achievements across our businesses, I am in awe of your accomplishments and I am excited to embark with you on many new endeavors.

I know this company has asked so much of you during the past three years, and these times certainly remain quite challenging, but as you have heard me say before, I am an optimist, and if I learned one thing from my years at Disney, it is that even in the face of uncertainty—perhaps especially in the face of uncertainty—our employees and Cast Members achieve the impossible.

You will be hearing more from me and your leaders tomorrow and in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, allow me to express my deep gratitude for all that you do. Disney holds a special place in the hearts of people around the globe thanks to you, and your dedication to this company and its mission to bring joy to people through great storytelling is an inspiration to me every single day.

Bob Iger