On Sunday night, it was announced that Bob Iger would return as CEO of the Walt Disney Company, replacing his successor Bob Chapek and now, it’s being reported that Iger was close to taking a very different job before his surprising Disney return. According to Variety, Iger was in advanced talks with RedBird Capital for a role that would have seen Iger overseeing a sports and media profile. RedBird is involved with companies such as LeBron James’ Springhill Entertainment, David Ellison’s Skydance, and Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s new movie studio, among others.
Per the report, news that Iger was going back to Disney began to make the rounds in corporate circles as early as last Thursday, with one source telling the outlet that Iger would “rather be a CEO than an entrepreneur”. Iger had also previously been announced as a partner and senior adviser to venture capital group Thrive Capital.
Late Sunday night, Disney announced Iger’s return to the company, replacing Chapek. Iger had previously retired in 2020.
“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” Susan Arnold, Chairman of the Board, said in a statement distributed by the company late Sunday night. “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.”
“Mr. Iger has the deep respect of Disney’s senior leadership team, most of whom he worked closely with until his departure as executive chairman 11 months ago, and he is greatly admired by Disney employees worldwide-all of which will allow for a seamless transition of leadership,” she said.
Iger later sent a company-wide email to employees of Disney regarding his return. You can read the whole email here.
“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,” Iger wrote in his memo to Disney Cast Members.
He then applauded the company’s work throughout the pandemic, lauding them for keeping the company afloat.
“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,” the executive added.
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