With the potentially cataclysmic effects of the Coronavirus ravaging society, a front-facing, experience based company like Disney is inevitably going to be affected to a huge degree. Estimates have the company bleeding $30 million dollars a day and – just as he prepared to ease back on his daily responsibilities and leave the company at the end of next year – it would appear that Bob Iger is back in, bringing his decades of valuable experience to steady the ship and keep Disney afloat.
The New York Times take a deep dive into the story.
In an emergency like this, Mr. Iger said, he had no choice but to abandon his plan to pull back.
“A crisis of this magnitude, and its impact on Disney, would necessarily result in my actively helping Bob [Chapek] and the company contend with it, particularly since I ran the company for 15 years!” he said in his email.
The men flew from there to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., to meet executives worried about the effect of social distancing on their business; they announced the park’s closing the next day. Then, they flew back to Los Angeles and on the way, said a person familiar with their conversation, they discussed the depth of the crisis. Mr. Iger made clear that he would remain closely involved.
The next day, March 13, was their last in the office. In early April, Mr. Chapek sent a bleak internal email announcing a wave of furloughs. He pushed immediate cuts and freezes on everything from development budgets to contractors’ pay.
He comes back to a situation not of Disney’s creation that sees almost a quarter of a million employees looking at a bleak future.
The company employed 223,000 as of last summer, and won’t say how many workers are furloughed, but the numbers are huge. It includes more than 30,000 workers in the California resort business alone, according to the president of Workers United Local 50 that represents some of those workers, Chris Duarte. Another 43,000 workers in Florida will be furloughed, the company confirmed on Sunday. All the workers will keep their benefits, but their last paychecks come April 19.
The mood at Disney is “dire,” said a person who has done projects with the company. “They’re covering the mirrors and ripping clothes.”
Mr. Iger, meanwhile, is trying to figure out what the company will look like after the crisis. One central challenge is to establish best practices for the company and the industry on how to bring people back to the parks and rides while avoiding the virus’s spread — using measures like taking visitors’ temperatures.
Mr. Iger also sees this as a moment, he has told associates, to look across the business and permanently change how it operates. He’s told them that he anticipates ending expensive old-school television practices like advertising upfronts and producing pilots for programs that may never air. Disney is also likely to reopen with less office space. He’s also told two people that he anticipated the company having fewer employees. (Mr. Iger said in an email on Sunday evening that he had “no recollection of ever having said” that he expected a smaller work force. “Regardless, any decision about staff reductions will be made by my successor and not me,” he added.)
- Hardcover Book
- Iger, Robert (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 272 Pages - 09/23/2019 (Publication Date) - Random House (Publisher)