Disney’s Bob Chapek Reflects on Likability as CEO

Disney’s Bob Chapek Reflects on Likability as CEO

Bob Chapek is not exactly concerned with being well-liked as the top executive of Disney.

Speaking at the Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live conference in Laguna Beach on Wednesday, Chapek — who has weathered a number of controversies since assuming the CEO role in early 2020 — said he didn’t prioritize his “personal feelings” in making decisions about Disney’s business.

“My own personal feelings aren’t really important. What’s important is how people think about our company, and so I take myself out of it. And I think that’s sort of the surprise, is everybody sort of wants to be loved and everybody wants everyone to like them,” he said. “But in this in this world, that’s not always necessary, so I wash all that away and say, ‘What do we want the ‘capital D’ Disney Company to stand for?’ And if we’re doing right by the ‘capital D’ Disney Company and can sleep at night, then I can be Teflon and know that we’re doing the right thing.”

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Chapek’s tenure at Disney has already been marked by a highly publicized fallout over the executive’s initial response to Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill that, later, evolved into a feud with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis; a messy legal battle with Marvel star Scarlett Johansson; and his decision to oust general entertainment chairman Peter Rice.

Despite speculation that Chapek could be on his way out as the CEO, Disney’s board of directors has thrown their support behind the executive and, in June, unanimously extended his contract through 2025.

Earlier in his conversation at the WSJ conference, Chapek also reiterated his support for ESPN, which he described as a “power brand” for Disney, and said the company’s metaverse plans — which Chapek described as “next generation storytelling” — were coming together, though he did not share specifics.

“We’re putting the arms and legs on it right now inside our own technical groups,” Chapek said. “What we’re trying to do is build a toolbox of utilities that then can be used by our creators at Pixar, at Disney and Marvel and [Lucasfilm] that can then take those utilities and use them to tell stories in a different, more customized, more personalized way.”

As for the fate of Disney+, Chapek was confident the streamer would outlast its competitors.

“Not everybody who’s out in the marketplace today will make it, ultimately, unless there’s some type of recombination of secondary players in the marketplace that combined to create something greater,” he said. “This is a critical mass business — streaming is a critical mass business. Scale is really, really important in order to be able to thrive, and so I think there’ll be fewer than more [streaming services], but definitely we’ll be there.”

Disney will report its fourth fiscal quarter earnings on Nov. 8.