Disney Hosts Town Hall on CEO Transition, but Details Are Still Thin

Tyler Hersko

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Disney hosted a town hall Wednesday morning to discuss yesterday’s surprise announcement that longtime CEO Bob Iger would be immediately stepping down, though the event was reportedly thin on details.

Deadline reported that the company’s hour-long town hall, which was held at Disney’s lot in Burbank, did not offer any insights on why Iger departed the company. Iger took the stage with new Disney CEO Bob Chapek and though there was a Q&A session following their remarks, most employees used their time to thank Iger for his work, according to Deadline.

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Iger’s Disney reign—he became CEO in 2005—was a period of significant expansion for the company: Disney acquired Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel Entertainment, and 21st Century Fox (and therefore Hulu) during Iger’s tenure. While Disney is expected to continue building out the “Star Wars” franchise and its Marvel Cinematic Universe for years to come, only time will tell how Chapek’s leadership will impact the company.

Barclays managing director Kannan Venketeshwar told Deadline that Iger’s continued wide-spanning involvement in Disney’s creative efforts could make the transition awkward and added that Disney not naming a successor to Chapek’s former role as chairman of parks, experiences, and products “seems to imply that the timing of the transition wasn’t planned.”

In the short term, investors are not happy. Wall Street — as Deadline noted — does not like surprises, and Disney’s abrupt CEO shakeup has caused the company’s stock to sharply decline. At press time Disney’s stock was down 3.77 percent; the company’s stock also declined around 3 percent on Tuesday. That said, Disney is far from the only company that has suffered stock woes in recent days: Ongoing concerns about the coronavirus have wracked most major financial markets and have also caused disruptions in some major entertainment industry events, including SXSW.

While the last few days have done Disney no favors on Wall Street, the company has enjoyed a positive reception from analysts in recent months due to the launch of its Disney+ streaming service. The company, which has a large number of investments in film and television properties, including ABC, FX, and the aforementioned Hulu, is undergoing a transition due to its recent acquisitions, such as the recent Hulu executive shake-up and the impending launch of its FX on Hulu initiative.

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