Disney Board Has Given No Indication of Firing CEO Bob Chapek But Insiders Say There Are Many Replacement Candidates

CEO of The Walt Disney Company Bob Chapek continues to make mistakes and disappoint fans, fueling speculation that he may be removed from his position. Business Insider spoke to ten insiders — including Disney executives, consultants, and board governance experts — about Chapek.

“At the highest levels of Hollywood, [there’s] a consensus that Chapek is damaged goods and doesn’t have the finesse or capacity to save himself,” one Hollywood insider familiar with Disney said.

A media consultant told Business Insider that is the board’s responsibility to hire and fire CEOs as well as have an emergency succession plan in place. While the board has not indicated they would fire Chapek, the media consultant said that a contingency plan “is either fully developed, or in the process.”

Another insider close to Disney executives reiterated that the board has not indicated they would switch CEOs. They added that directors are waiting until after Disney’s quarter two earnings call today, May 11. Additionally, the board members are not permitted to speak on this decision as it would be a breach of contract.

Chapek’s most recent round of bad press has centered on his initial lack of response to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida. Though he eventually denounced the bill, it still passed the Florida Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis. Despite Cast Members’ concerns about the bill, Disney is still planning on moving Walt Disney Imagineers and more jobs to Central Florida.

James Stewart, author of the 2006 book “DisneyWar,” previously told CNBC that the situation in Florida is a “growing cause of concern among many investors.”

Former CEO Bob Iger shared his dislike of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill well before Disney did and later sat down with the leadership team of NBCUniversal. An insider said that Iger feels the company he built is being poorly managed.

Some Hollywood executives believe bringing Iger back as board chairman could help the situation. Iger previously said that rumors he would return as CEO were “ridiculous.”

Some have thought that board member and Nike executive chairman Mark Parker may replace Chapek, but a senior Disney insider said that this is “Just not true.”

Others have suggested Peter Rice, chairman of Disney general entertainment, as a CEO candidate. Rice joined Disney when they acquired 20th Century Fox.

ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro is another possibility. Before taking over ESPN in 2018, he was chairman of consumer products and interactive media for Disney.

A former Disney executive told Business Insider that Catherine Powell should also be in consideration. Powell is currently the head of global hosting at Airbnb but was previously president of the western region of Disney Parks, including Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World, and Disneyland Paris.

Other possible replacements include Kevin Mayer, the former chairman of direct-to-consumer and international, and Thomas Staggs, who was once Disney COO and a favorite to be Iger’s successor. Both now work together to run Candle Media.

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  1. What Disney needs to find is a CEO that is not only good at the business aspect but who also loves Disney. Disney needs a leader who knows Disney and loves Disney. Someone who went to the parks as a kid and feels nostalgic when walking through the parks. Someone who rode 20,000 Leagues as a kid and flew with Dumbo and Peter Pan. Someone who knows that special feeling you get when you walk onto Main Street and get that first whiff of the Confectionery and see Cinderella Castle for the first time of your trip. Disney needs someone who has stood with a small tear in their eye while watching Wishes. Disney needs someone who loves Disney because of what it truly is, not a giant money making machine, but because it is truly magical. Walt’s vision was magical and we need someone who wants to keep that magic going. Surely there must be someone out there with a great head for business but also a bit of a dreamer’s heart.

    1. I agree. He is pricing everything to the max for short term gain but he is killing the magic for many fans.

    2. Yes yes exactly thank you!!Disney you need a someone who is a Walt and has the love and compassion as he did. Not a jo blow shift by what ever they want to do find a true love Disney Walt .

    3. Sadly that’s not what they’re looking for….just a scape goat who can keep finding ways to squeeze another dollar out of the guest…..

    4. Well said. And somebody who is NOT woke nor political, and won’t drag the company into those areas. Finally, somebody who has the Guest experience top of mind at all times. #bringbackeisner

      1. We need Tom Staggs or Peter Rice or anyone in the walt disney company to Replace bob Chapek now and i hope that the new ceo will make everything right again and the new CEO will give a very long apology to everyone and they would do everything and their power to make things right again undo the damage Chapek has done to company

  2. 100% agree but sadly I don’t think that’s what we’ll get (if any change at all).
    Disney is now run by a group of Hollywood elites who have networked themselves through all of the correct circles and know all of the correct people and has very little in common with Walt’s dream. I cringed when I heard Chapec’s statement about the in park’s earning earnings report spinning the Genie+ money into something that he said people actually demanded was pure hogwash and shouldn’t be accepted as an answer to what’s become a more costly vacation experience for those that bite the bullet and buy in. My last 2 cents is that I REALLY hope Disney stays out of politics and political donations. Accept everyone but don’t over represent anyone.

  3. You hit the nail on the head. Unless the Board does the right thing, then they are asculpable and negligent as Chapek has been. Eisner was the last CEO, who had a passion for Disney brand and Walt’s legacy.

  4. We need Peter Rice or Tom Staggs or even anyone in the company to replace the most hated ceo ever i can’t stand his crap anymore in fact he should never be CEO in the first place

    He deserves to be known as Disney Worst CEO is Disney fans don’t want him be CEO we a better CEO that cares about Walt’s dream and legacy

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