Today was Bob Iger’s first official day back at The Walt Disney Company as CEO, following last week’s shocker that he is back and Bob Chapek is out. This morning, Iger addressed employees at the company in a town hall.
Facing a wide range of questions from some in the room, remotely, on the record, and anonymously. He addressed everything from potential dealmaking, which includes mergers, his desire to have employees back in the office, to the company’s now rocky relationship with the state of Florida, and whether it should wade into political controversies.
First up, Iger confirmed that Disney will move forward on the hiring freeze put into place by Bob Chapek earlier this month. Iger says this is a wise move as he figures out the cost structure of the company now that he is back. “We need to work quickly, but we also should be smart about it,” he said.
Wild rumors from Disney insiders have said that a Disney/Apple merger is possible. These rumors have surfaced multiple times over the past couple of years but Iger confirmed when addressed about it Iger simply said what we all already know, it is “pure speculation.” He also confirmed there will be no significant mergers or buyouts in his second tenure as CEO. “We have a great set of assets here. Nothing is forever, but I am very, very comfortable with each of the assets that we have.”
Another touchy subject that Iger addressed was Disney’s relationship with the state of Florida, which has sought to revoke the Reedy Creek Improvement District that houses Walt Disney World after the company’s hamhanded response to the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill. “I had no idea what its ramifications are in terms of the business itself. The state of Florida has been very important to us for a long time, and we have been very important to the state of Florida.”
Iger also addressed political controversies and that he doesn’t want Disney impacted by it. He gave a very professional response saying, “I think there’s a misperception here about what politics is. Some of the subjects that have been proven to be controversial as it relates to Disney have been branded political, and I don’t think they are. Do I like the company being embroiled in controversy? Of course not.”
Now that Iger is back in the driver’s chair at The Walt Disney Company for at least two years, all eyes will be on what he plans to do throughout the company’s major subsidiaries, which includes the parks, streaming, the film studios, and travel. 2022 will close out with no significant changes, but rest assured changes are coming in early 2023.