Editor’s Note: A version of this story appeared in CNN Business’ Nightcap newsletter. To get it in your inbox, sign up for free, here.
Over at Disney, it’s out with the new Bob and in with the old…
Here’s the deal: Disney just ousted its CEO, Bob Chapek, and is bringing Bob Iger back to the helm.
This was a big surprise Sunday night, for a few reasons:
1) Iger has previously dismissed the idea of going back to Disney. He had a wildly successful run at it. Plus, he’s 71 and mega-rich — why not just enjoy retirement, Bob?
2) Chapek has been in the job less than three years, and the board just voted unanimously in June to renew his contract.
What’s going on?
First, it’s hard to overstate how legendary Iger is within Disney. In his 15 years as CEO, the company thrived and made some absolutely crucial deals.
- Within his first year as CEO, Iger persuaded Steve Jobs to sell Pixar to Disney for $7.6 billion — a risky move that wound up minting money for the company.
- In 2009, Disney acquired Marvel for $4 billion. Forbes estimates the studio is now worth more than $50 billion.
- Then, he kept going: Iger’s Disney acquired Lucasfilm, home of the Star Wars franchise, for a little over $4 billion.
Second, it’s also hard to overstate what a raw deal Chapek walked into when he took over in — wait for it — February 2020.
- Chapek’s first order of business was crisis management: Disney was forced to shut down all 12 of its parks as the virus spread. Production on films was suspended and movie theaters closed.
- Chapek faced extra scrutiny when Scarlett Johansson, the star of Marvel’s “Black Widow,” sued Disney over the company’s decision to release the movie on streaming the same day it came out in theaters, effectively reducing her financial stake in the film.
- The biggest headache for Chapek came this past spring, when he bungled his messaging around a Florida bill that was widely disparaged by LGBTQ+ community. Chapek said nothing at first. Then he said too much. And it all became very messy for him and the company.
The leadership shakeup was a surprise, but not an unwelcome one on Wall Street. Disney shares surged 9% Monday morning, reflecting investors’ hopes that Iger will swoop in and work his magic.
Earlier this month, Disney shares sank on a disappointing earnings report — and it’s already been dismal year for the stock, which has lost about 36% of its value since January.
Bottom line: Iger is returning to a Disney that’s very different from the one he left.
With $1.5 billion in streaming losses last quarter, park fans unhappy, sinking cable networks like ESPN dealing with cord cutting, and a moribund stock price, Iger has his work cut out for him.
Can Iger fix all of it in just two years, all while grooming a successor? My colleague Frank “Andor” Pallotta has more.
NUMBER OF THE DAY: $3.1 billion
FTX, the bankrupt crypto exchange, said in a court filing that it owes its 50 biggest creditors nearly $3.1 billion.
While the filing didn’t identify the creditors by name, it referred to them as “customers.” FTX’s new management has previously said there may be more than 1 million creditors across the exchange’s businesses.
It was a busy weekend on Twitter.
ICYMI: Elon Musk, the site’s new owner, restored the personal Twitter account of former President Donald Trump nearly two years after it was permanently banned following the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
He also welcomed back Kanye West, now known as Ye, whose account was suspended in October over an antisemitic rant. And on Monday, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who’d been suspended 10 months ago for repeatedly spreading Covid-19 misinformation, also was allowed back on.
So just to catch everyone up: In less than one month of owning Twitter, Elon Musk has laid off roughly half of its staff, hastily launched a paid verification program that was quickly rolled back, fired people who disagreed with him, and prompted hundreds of resignations with an ultimatum that those who stay on at the company must adopt an “extremely hardcore” work ethic.
Late last week, there were so many departures that users weren’t sure the site could even stay online. Many posted emotional farewell messages, letting their followers know where they can find them in the future. It was a very last-day-of-high-school vibe.
The Trump news was no surprise — even before buying Twitter, Musk made clear he would reinstate Trump and rethink the site’s content-moderation policies. But he’s also trying to assure advertisers he won’t let things go off the rails. He said he would establish a “content moderation council” before making any decisions on restoring accounts, though there is no indication any such group exists. After all, he decided to reinstate Trump based on a public Twitter poll.
If Musk has any strategy behind the decision and its timing, my colleague Seth Fiegerman writes, it appears to be betting that chaos makes for a good show.
Through all of it, Musk has stressed that Twitter is hitting all-time highs in user numbers. With Trump back in the mix, Elon’s counting on those numbers to tick higher. Who can resist such a messy drama?
But it’s not yet clear whether Trump will resume tweeting, or stick to his Truth Social platform. And if Musk’s strategy is to stoke controversy, he’s already brought out the big guns in letting Trump back on. There’s only so much outrage left to tap into.
Meanwhile, civil rights groups and advocates are warning companies not to do business on Twitter.
“In Elon Musk’s Twittersphere, you can incite an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, which led to the deaths of multiple people, and still be allowed to spew hate speech and violent conspiracies on his platform,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement. “Any advertiser still funding Twitter should immediately pause all advertising.”