Home Hollywood Bob Iger On Succession, Nelson Peltz, Elon Musk & “Woke” Content  

Bob Iger On Succession, Nelson Peltz, Elon Musk & “Woke” Content  

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Bob Iger On Succession, Nelson Peltz, Elon Musk & “Woke” Content  

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Bob Iger took a victory lap this morning, a day after the company fended off activist investor Nelson Peltz in a fierce proxy battle. In an interview on CNBC, he said the fight had one positive, getting the company in closer touch with investors as it lobbied for its board slate. He said succession is top of mind and a new CEO would requiring a decent transition period. He and commented on current (and perhaps former) adversaries from Ike Perlmutter to Elon Musk to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Peltz didn’t have much strategically to offer but he dug in on succession, as the cable net’s David Faber did today. “Clearly shareholders care about it, given what the company has been through,” Iger acknowledged, noting that a board succession committee led by chair Mark Parker met seven times last year and will meet more this year to identify the next CEO before his contract ends in 2026. “I think it’s really important to name the right person at the right time. I’m going to create a transition process that is healthy.”

He didn’t say how long of a transition was being considered. “But I think it’s really important to have a good transition process. This is a big, complicated company. And not only is important to choose the right person, but it’s really important to give that person all the opportunity in the world to be successful in the job. And the board is very focused on who the person is when the decision should be made. And essentially, how the handover of service will take place … They are treating it with a sense of urgency.”

Asked about the last handoff of CEO baton, he said “it could not have happened at a worst moment for the company and in the world. COVID hit soon after Bob Chapek was named CEO,” shutting down moviegoing, production, theme parks and live sports were not occurring. “This company was hit very, very hard. And it handed my successor a set of challenges that were enormous in nature. And hopefully that will not be the case the next time around. I don’t think that the there’s much more I can add in terms of the process itself or the transition. Obviously, you we all learn from the past.”

“We’re focused on the future, not the past at this point … Because you can’t do anything about what happened. You just have to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.

Overall, he said, “This whole process [fighting off Peltz] gave the board and some members of management an opportunity to engage with many shareholders, perhaps in the on an even deeper level, and have a good, honest, candid dialogue, where we had an opportunity to describe the shareholders, what our priorities are, and what our various processes are, including succession. And we had an opportunity to listen to them and hear what was on their minds as well. So I think, if anything came of this, from that it’s positive is that it did in fact, increase the engagement that we’ve had with shareholders in this. And that’s a very good thing.“did increase the engagement that we had with shareholders, and that’s a good thing.”

Clearly, shareholders are interested in care very much about succession,” he said, “given what the company has been through over the past few years.”

Iger denied that pressure from the activist investor had anything to do with a bump in Disney‘s share price or flood of strategic initiatives (many Wall Streeters believe it did have some impact). Petlz didn’t make the board but at a shareholder vote tally at the annual meeting yesterday, he did receive 30% of the votes.

Asked about noisy criticism, from X owner Elon Musk in particular, Iger said, “I ignore it. It has no relevance to Disney or to me … People have been coming after the company and me for years and I don’t get distracted.”

On the woke content controversy, ” he said, “Generally speaking, we need to be an entertainment-first company.”

“I think the noise is sort of quieted down. I’ve been preaching this for a long time at the company [from] before I left, and since I came back, that our number one goal is to entertain, I think  the term ‘woke’ is thrown around rather liberally No, no pun intended. I think a lot of people don’t even understand really what it means. The bottom line is that infusing messaging as a sort of a number one priority in our films and TV shows is not what we’re up to. They need to be entertaining. And where the Disney company can have a positive impact on the world, whether it’s, you know, fostering acceptance and understanding of people of all different types great. But, generally speaking, we need to be entertainment for an entertainment first company, and I’ve worked really hard to do that.”

“We’re trying to reach a very, very diverse audience. And, on one hand, in order to do that, the stories you tell have to really reflect the audience that you’re trying to reach … And really, first and foremost, they want to be entertained, and sometimes they can be turned off by certain things. And we just have to be more sensitive to the interest of a broad audience. It’s not easy, you can’t please everybody all the time, right?”

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