Media executive Robert A. Chapek, who became CEO of the Walt Disney Company in 2020, is stepping down, the Disney executive board said Sunday.
Robert A. Iger, the company’s previous CEO, will return to his old job.
“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 for Disney, said in a statement.
“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.”
Chapek’s tenure heading up one of America’s largest entertainment companies was rife with controversy, including a high-profile conflict with Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
When DeSantis and Florida Republicans sought to pass the Parental Rights in Education Act earlier this year, Chapek found himself in the middle of hyper partisan debates over the role left-wing ideas about gender and sex should have in public school classrooms. When it emerged that Disney executives had made financial contribution to some of the lawmakers involved with crafting the policy, Chapek faced intense internal pressure to publicly oppose the bill, which he eventually did.
The policy — which critics dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill — prevents government-run school employees from talking about sexuality and gender to young children. But Chapek was so cowed by the woke employees at Disney that he publicly condemned the legislation.
In addition to picking a fight with a popular governor, Chapek also sought to incorporate depictions of same-sex relationships into children’s cartoons. Although these decisions might have been popular with top-level Disney employees and Hollywood, Disney’s customers thought differently.
In an April poll from Trafalgar Group, 68 percent of respondents said they would be less likely to purchase content from Disney after learning about the companies plans to incorporate sexual ideas into content aimed at children.
Shares of Disney jumped more than 9 percent in pre-market trading over the news of Iger’s return.