Posts tagged with "Walt Disney"

Robert Iger returns as Disney CEO, as Bob Chapek is ousted

November 22, 2022

On Sunday night,  November 20, Walt Disney’s board of directors CEO Bob Chapek with Robert Iger, the company’s former chairman and CEO who left the company at the end of last year, reports The Wall Street Journal.

“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,” said Susan Arnold, chairman of Disney’s board, in a statement.

“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” she added.

The surprise change comes at a tumultuous time for Disney.

This month, the company reported weaker-than-expected fourth quarter financial results—killing the momentum built up over a strong year that saw record revenue and profits in multiple divisions, especially the one that includes theme parks.

Disney’s theme-park business has recovered strongly since the coronavirus pandemic shut down its venues across the world, but the division continues to subsidize widening losses in the streaming video business.

Chapek has said repeatedly that he expects the streaming business to be profitable by September 2024. In the most recent quarter, however, it lost $1.47 billion, more than twice the year-earlier loss.

The company also cautioned that its profitability target would only be met if there weren’t a significant economic downturn—the first time it has added such a caveat. Disney’s stock price shot up 9% to more than $100 a share in premarket trading early Monday. Some observers said the management change might benefit the company’s stock.

In anemail to employees Sunday night, Iger said he was returning to the company.

“It is with an incredible sense of gratitude and humility—and, I must admit, a bit of amazement—that I write to you this evening with the news that I am returning to the Walt Disney Company as chief executive officer,” he wrote in the email, which was viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Several top Disney executives first learned the news that Iger was returning after they read his Sunday email, while some of them were together attending an Elton John concert at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles that was streamed live on Disney’s flagship streaming service Disney+, according to people familiar with the matter.

Chapek also was expected to attend the event and the company had planned for him to introduce Elton John from the stage before the concert, according to two people with knowledge of the plans, although it isn’t clear if Chapek actually was there, they said. Other Disney employees said they were baffled by Iger’s Sunday email and immediately began asking if the message to employees was real or if it came from a hacked email account.

Negotiations between Iger and the board to return as CEO were initiated only in recent days, according to a person familiar with the talks. Iger has said publicly on at least two occasions over the past year that he isn’t interested in returning to Disney. In recent months, he has focused on investing in and advising startups, particularly in the technology industry.

Adding to the surprise, Chapek, who has served as CEO since February 2020, over the summer saw his contract renewed through the end of 2024. At the time,. Arnold, the board chair, said that while the company was “dealt a tough hand by the pandemic,” Chapek “not only weathered the storm but emerged in a position of strength.”

Wells Fargo analyst Steven Cahall wrote in a note to clients: “Iger will be viewed as a catalyst to improve the content aspects of Disney, and we expect bigger potential strategic changes around the long-term shape of” the streaming business.

Chapek couldn’t be reached for comment.

Research contact: @WSJ

Number of job postings requiring COVID-19 vaccination has nearly doubled since early July

August 16, 2021

Vaccination is increasingly a requirement to be hired, as employers ranging from accounting and software firms to schools and restaurants are asking applicants to get themselves inoculated against COVID-19, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The share of job postings stating that a new hire must be vaccinated has nearly doubled in the past month, according to the job search site Indeed.

The total number remains low, roughly 1,200 postings requiring a vaccination per million in the first week of August. But that is well up from about 600 in early July, and about 50 per million job postings in early February.

Many of the postings don’t explicitly name COVID-19 as the virus for which the vaccination is needed, said Indeed economist AnnElizabeth Konkel, who wrote the report, but broader context of the job descriptions suggested most employers were referring to the coronavirus vaccine, as opposed to other shots.

Early this year, before COVID-19 vaccines were widely available in the United States, very few job postings outside of healthcare positions indicated a vaccination requirement, she said.

“While the number of postings requiring a vaccine is still low, it’s a trend that’s really taking off,” Konkel told the Journal. “I think a growing number of employers are trying to keep workers safe and do not want to shut down again this winter….They see vaccines as the way out of this pandemic.”

The increased number of job postings requiring vaccination comes at a time when the number of coronavirus cases is surging because of the fast-spreading Delta variant. Employers ranging from the federal government and State of California to McDonald’s and Walt Disney are saying that at least some of their workers must soon be vaccinated against COVID-19 to report to worksites—or, in some cases, face frequent testing or other requirements.

Consumer sentiment in the United States soured early this month as Americans grew more worried about the spread of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus, according to a University of Michigan survey released on Friday, August 13.

The university’s index of consumer sentiment fell sharply to 70.2 in the first half of August—down from 81.2 in July. Consumers reasoned that the economy’s performance would weaken in coming months, said Richard Curtin, the survey’s chief economist, adding, “the extraordinary surge in negative economic assessments also reflects an emotional response, mainly from dashed hopes that the pandemic would soon end.”

As evidence, the share of job postings, per million, in the education sector that required a vaccination rose to 2,166 in July from 33 in February, according to Indeed. In food service, the rate per million rose to 814 in July from 43 in February. The rate per million for accounting rose to 1,184 from 39, and in software development the rate increased to 438 from four.

Konkel told the Journal that there is no evidence in Indeed data that job searchers are looking specifically for positions that require or don’t require vaccinations. She said some job postings mention that the existing staff have been vaccinated or that the company is offering a small bonus to workers willing to be vaccinated.

“The labor market is tight enough that there will likely be employers who are willing to overlook vaccination status,” she said.

Research contact: @WSJ

A new service seeks to streamline your streaming

January 8, 2021

As the streaming landscape keeps getting more crowded, a new entrant is looking to help declutter it, The Wall Street Journal reports

Struum—a Los Angeles-based streaming service co-founded by former Discovery and Walt Disney  executives—won’t offer its own slate of original programming when it launches this spring. Instead, it will aim to give customers à-la-carte access to all content from hundreds of niche streaming services, offering users a way to stream individual shows and movies from various platforms without having to subscribe to each plan separately.

Co-founder Paul Pastor told the Journal that Struum would give more visibility to lesser-known services—which he said have “fantastic content” but have trouble “being part of someone’s daily habit,” because there is only so much money households will spend on streaming services every month.

The coronavirus pandemic has been a boon for major streaming services, including Netflix., Disney’s Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, whose subscriber base soared last year in the midst of growing demand for content from shut-in customers. Some 95% of U.S. households subscribe to at least one of these three services, according to Parks Associates, a research firm.

Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, whose Tornante is Struum’s main financial backer, told The Wall Street Journal that the decision to invest was a no-brainer.

“When I heard about this idea of an aggregation platform that would pick up smaller streaming services that don’t have brand awareness particularly like Netflix does have, I thought this was a great idea,” he said.

Struum declined to name any of the services whose content would be available on its platform at launch, but said it has already struck deals with nearly three dozen services—accounting for more than 20,000 TV series, movies, and shorts.

Subscribers will get monthly credits that can be used toward watching shows and movies, the company said. Its co-founders—who also include Lauren DeVillier, formerly of Discovery, and Eugene Liew and Thomas Wadsworth, formerly of Disney—said there would be multiple packages to choose from. A likely one, they said, would cost subscribers $9.99 a month for 100 credits, which should allow them to watch about one program a day.

The co-founders said Struum would sort out the economics—for example, how many credits should a hit show or movie be worth compared with more run-of-the-mill programming—on a case-by-case basis with each streaming partner, depending on demand. The company will share subscription revenue with the streaming services.

Research contact: @WSJ

Reputation poll: Apple needs polishing

March 14, 2018

The Apple and Google corporate brands have lost their elan—while Elon Musk’s Tesla is rocketing higher after launching a red Roadster into deep space and Amazon continues to ride high at number one in the Harris Poll Reputation Quotient for the third consecutive year.

Since 1999, the Reputation Quotient has quantified the reputation ratings for the 100 most visible U.S. companies, according to Harris.

Specifically, in a survey of about 26,000 U.S. adults, iPhone manufacturer Apple dropped to number 29 this year from its previous position at number five, and Google dropped from number eight to number 28. Apple had ranked at number two as recently as 2016.

John Gerzema, CEO of the Harris Poll, told Reuters in an interview that the likely reason Apple and Google plummeted was that they have not introduced as many attention-grabbing products as they did in past years, such as when Google rolled out Google Maps or Apple’s then-CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

“Google and Apple, at this moment, are sort of in valleys,” Gerzema said. “We’re not quite to self-driving cars yet. We’re not yet seeing all the things in artificial intelligence they’re going to do.”

Meanwhile, Gerzema attributed Amazon’s continued high ranking to its expanding footprint in consumers’ lives, into areas such as groceries via its Whole Foods acquisition.

Elon Musk’s Tesla climbed from number nine to number three on the strength of sending its Roadster into space aboard a SpaceX booster—despite fleeting success delivering cars on time on Earth, Gerzema told Reuters.

He’s a modern-day carnival barker—it’s incredible,” Gerzema said of Musk. He noted that the Tesla CEO “is able to capture the public’s imagination when every news headline is incredibly negative. They’re filling a void of optimism.”

This year’s top ten rankings go as follows: Amazon, Wegman’s Food Markets, Tesla Motors, Chick-fil-A, Walt Disney, HEB Grocery, United Parcel Service, Publix Super Markets, Patagonia, and Aldi.

Last place went to Japanese auto parts supplier Takata, which distributed air bags that inflated with too much force—allegedly causing 22 deaths and hundreds of injuries, and prompting the largest recall in automotive history.

Research contact: @StephenNellis