Disney’s reinstated CEO Bob Iger has started a trend that will easily enrage many in the public sector.
It’s no secret now, and it was no secret then, that Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek, who was first cast into the chief executive spotlight suddenly in February 2020 just before the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic swept across the United States, was simply the wrong man for the job. Though quarterly earnings reports from The Walt Disney Company showed massive revenue and profits, the numbers weren’t what was needed and/or wanted by the company as a whole.
Since Chapek was removed from his post as CEO and relieved of his position on the Disney Company’s Board of Directors on November 20, 2022, we’ve learned a lot about events that ultimately led up to the board’s decision to remove and replace Chapek. For example, it was revealed that Christine McCarthy, Chief Financial Officer of The Walt Disney Company, led the charge to have Chapek fired. There was even speculation and allegations of Chapek cooking the books at Disney, though this has yet to be substantiated.
Since Bob Iger’s re-installation, the term “boomerang CEO” has made the rounds, if you’ll pardon the pun. And it’s not an entirely new term. A boomerang CEO is exactly what it sounds like–a chief executive officer who works for a company, leaves for a period of time, and then returns to the role of CEO, often at the request of the company. Iger is now a boomerang CEO who joins a group of individuals who have done the same, including Apple’s Steve Jobs, Bloomberg’s Michael Bloomberg, and Starbucks’ Howard Schultz, each of whom left their respective companies for a time before returning to the role again.
Now, another CEO may join the ranks of those so-called boomerang CEOs, though this particular reprisal will likely be met with far less approval, pomp, and circumstance than Iger’s reprisal.
Jeff Bezos, the former CEO of Amazon, may make a comeback in 2023, according to analysts, as the company is currently in a state of chaos. Amazon is currently experiencing a “slump” under its new leadership–that of Andy Jassy, Bezos’ successor. In 2022 alone, Amazon shares plummeted 50%, and this week, Jassy talked about an “uncertain economy” and confirmed the planned cuts of nearly 20,000 jobs at Amazon.
As of 2017, Iger had yet to make Forbes’ list of Most-Loved CEOs, and Bezos had yet to make their Most-Hated CEOs, though Iger has largely been thought of as a well-liked CEO. Days after he was re-installed as CEO at The Walt Disney Company, Iger and his wife, Willow Bay, visited Disneyland to experience the Candlelight Processional, and as they made their way to the Processional, droves of Guests bum-rushed the newly-arrived CEO, signaling their acceptance and approval of Iger.
But on the whole, Jeff Bezos is seen as a less-than-well-liked CEO. Some reports tout his “less-than-charitable approach to charity,” despite being on track to be one of the first trillionaires on earth. Bezos also has a reputation for losing his temper when his expectations aren’t met. In the book The Everything Store, author Brad Stone paints Bezos with a broad stroke, pointing out his alleged tendency to become enraged at news of unmet expectations and requirements, as well as a pattern of hurling insults at employees.
It remains to be seen whether Bezos will, in fact, return to Amazon, or if Jassy will retain his post. It’s also possible that another person will be chosen to replace Jassy. But it’s fairly clear that if Bezos follows the Disney-Iger trend, many–inside Amazon and outside of Amazon–will not be nearly as happy as Disney fans have been at the news of Iger’s return.