Bob Iger Demonstrates His Willingness to Get Involved at Disney


Bob Iger has long been known for his ability to bridge divides between people, unite interests, and turn disparate personalities into functioning teams. Disney’s board chose the veteran leader to take over the entertainment giant when they needed a diplomat to regain their franchise’s well-regarded finesse. Lately, however, Bob Iger has drawn upon a different skill – his ability as a street fighter.

In light of the cost-cutting initiatives that passed during the company’s annual shareholder meeting on Monday, Disney began expected layoffs last week, part of a plan to slim down 7,000 employees and save 5.5 billion dollars. Among the casualties was Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, Chairman of Marvel Entertainment. With his departure, Disney was finally able to shed the man who had become an obstacle for the company over the last decade.

The situation was further magnified when Perlmutter joined forces with activist investor Nelson Peltz to try and bargain for a seat on the board. This move is unheard-of in corporate America and brought to the forefront the complex tensions between big business and politics.

Perlmutter had initially agitated Iger’s predecessor, Bob Chapek, and had a hand in his ousting and Iger’s appointment as CEO. Through his power of persuasion and deep-pocketed friend, Peltz, he had tried to reclaim his lost influence in the company. The proxy battle between the two forces was rife with speculation, which Disney intelligently documented and distorted, in order to undermine Peltz in the eyes of Disney shareholders.

Iger’s relationship with Perlmutter beyond business is no secret. He had sold Marvel to Disney for 4 billion dollars in 2009, which made him the firm’s second biggest investor. However, Iger methodically transformed the company and in the years to come Perlmutter found himself isolated from the Disney empire. Iger confirmed this “curious dynamic” in an CNBC interview shortly before Peltz conceded defeat and backed off.

Over the years, Iger has been heralded for his approach to having the companies he acquires, such as Pixar, Lucasfilm and ESPN, maintain their autonomy; but with Perlmutter, this had become a struggle. In his recent memoir, Iger recalled how Perlmutter tried to prevent the casting of female and Black superheroes. He ordered his team to stop being obstructive and demanded they produce Captain Marvel and Black Panther.

The disharmony between Bob and Ike was palpable, with their political backgrounds playing a major role. Iger identifies as a staunch Democrat and is a vocal supporter of liberal causes, while Perlmutter identifies as an ultra-conservative and has aligned himself with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, among other right-wing politicians.

This discontent within the company doesn’t seem to be abating any time soon. In the midst of conflict with Florida’s governor, DeSantis, who withdrew Disney’s special tax district rights, Iger enacted changes that limit the power of DeSantis’ incoming board. This incited a fiery response from the governor and prompted Iger to take a more unyielding stance instead of relying on traditional diplomacy.

It is clear that Bob Iger is not afraid to get his hands dirty when it comes to protecting the Creative Media giant. His ability to transition between dealmaker and diplomat serves him well in his efforts to bring the company back on stable footing.

The Walt Disney Company is one of the largest film and entertainment companies worldwide. Having attained immense success in both traditional and digital media, Disney owns many familiar franchises such as Star Wars, Pixar and Marvel. With its theme parks, TV networks, movies and streaming platforms, Disney has redefined the entertainment experience.

Bob Iger has been at the helm of the Disney Company since 2005 as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman. His enviable resume includes extensive experience in the entertainment industry, primarily in television and film. Iger is widely acknowledged for his brilliant negotiation skills and strategic vision. In 2009, under Iger’s direction, Disney acquired Marvel Entertainment, which helped propel Disney to new heights. His ability to bridge divides between people and create functioning teams make him an invaluable leader.