Disney (DIS) CEO Bob Chapek is facing another public outcry following the unexpected departure of television chief executive Peter Rice, adding to the list of corporate controversies facing major companies including Netflix.NFLKS) and Spotify (PLACE).
Rice, who served as chairman of Disney General Entertainment Content since joining the company in 2019, was reportedly was fired by Čapek last week due to concerns about his cultural fit.
Rice’s contract, long considered by industry insiders as a possible successor to Čapek, was recently terminated. updated although it did not expire until the end of 2024. Rice was replaced by his First Lieutenant Dana Walden.
The announcement raised new questions surrounding Čapek’s controversial tenure, with industry veterans criticizing the decision.
“Capek just made another big mistake,” one industry official said. said the chief executive of The Hollywood Reporter.
“This is not good for the company. Morale is terrible,” added another.
Disney expressed his support for the embattled CEO.
“The strength of The Walt Disney Company’s business post-pandemic is a testament to Bob’s leadership and vision for the company’s future,” said Chairman Susan Arnold. “At this important time of business growth and transformation, we are committed to maintaining the successful path Disney is on today, and Bob and his leadership team enjoy the support and trust of the Board of Directors.”
Disney shares are down 39% in 2022.
The difficult fate of Chapek
Shortly after replacing longtime chief executive Bob Iger in 2020, Chapek reorganized its media and entertainment business, a controversial move that upset longtime veterans and reportedly confused workers.
Chapek also worked public battle with Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson, who sued the company for “breach of contract” after it decided to release the Marvel movie on Disney+ the same day it hit theaters. Johansson and Disney eventually settled.
More recently, Chapek found himself in political crossfire Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who abolished the company’s special tax district following Disney’s adverse reaction to Law on Parental Rights in Educationor what critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Čapek, who initially chose not to speak publicly on the matter, chose to work behind the scenes in an attempt to soften the legislation. It didn’t work.
The chief executive ultimately reversed course after a sharp backlash and a series of strikes organized by employees. Čapek publicly condemned the act during the company’s annual shareholder meeting on March 9 and directly apologized to employees in a company memo.
However, Čapek was criticized for his soft stance, and the apology was considered by many to be too minor and belated.
Lee Cockerell, former executive vice president of operations for Walt Disney World Resort, previously said that Yahoo Finance executives should “get up quickly” on political issues, adding that “politics is just part of life… you can’t avoid it.” “
“[Chapek] he probably thinks so now, and so do I … he should have come out right away, ”said Cockerell. “You can’t wait a week to decide how you’re going to react,” Cockerell said.
Cockerell added that Disney’s culture of building an inclusive workforce comes from an expectation to “stand up and support everyone,” further highlighting the conflict between Disney employees and Capek’s leadership style.
Netflix: Not everyone will like or agree with our content
Disney isn’t the only media giant to tackle issues of leadership and culture along with a dip in stocks.
Enter Netflix, whose shares are down nearly 71% in 2022.
Streaming company recently updated the principles of corporate culture for the first time since 2017, clarifying its position as a media giant solely for games.
The platform wrote that “not everyone will like – or agree with everything – our service.” Rather, “we let viewers decide what’s right for them, rather than having Netflix censor specific artists or voices.”
Netflix added that some employees may have to work on titles they “deem harmful,” warning: “If you find it difficult to maintain the breadth of our content, Netflix may not be the place for you.”
Update follows last year layoffs of employees in connection with the release of Dave Chappelle’s controversial comedy special The Closer, which was deemed transphobic by critics.
At the time, Netflix was defending the special along with co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos. sending email to employees specifically, it read: “While some employees disagree, we firmly believe that the content on the screen does not cause direct harm in the real world.”
Netflix co-founder Mark Randolph, who served as the company’s first chief executive since its inception in 1997-2003, told Yahoo Finance that he supports Netflix’s transparency decision, saying the culture update “doesn’t sound that blatant”.
All companies must continue to be “honest and clear” when it comes to taking official positions on various issues, he continued, and ultimately “let customers decide.”
Randolph also explained that in the past “it was very easy to either ignore these problems or find some way to solve them. [but] it’s getting harder,” adding, “Thank God I’m not the CEO of a major media company today.”
Spotify: We will not take the position of content censor
Earlier this year, Spotify faced its own content censorship debate.
Platform came under fire for hosting a controversial Joe Rogan podcast that was criticized by critics for spreading misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. Shares are also down 57% since the start of the year.
Notable artists including Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Niels Lofgren, David Crosby and Stephen Stills, among others, have taken their music off the platform to oust Rogan – by far Spotify’s most followed personality with 11 million listeners.
Ultimate platform sided with Rogan as Spotify CEO Daniel Ek reiterated that the company would not “take the position of content censor”.
And despite the controversy, the service continued to add users, surpassing Wall Street estimates by reporting 422 million monthly users in the first quarter.
However, CFRA analyst John Freeman called Spotify “careless” about the controversy. interview with Yahoo Financestating that it spoiled his fundamental vision of the company.