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Bob Iger Sets Creativity as ‘Number One Priority’ for Disney

The reinstalled CEO also addressed reports of a merger with Apple at a town hall with employees Monday

Returning CEO Bob Iger laid out his future plans for the Walt Disney Company and fielded questions from employees during a town hall on Monday.

Iger said the House of Mouse would remain “resilient” and focus on creativity and making its streaming business profitable rather than just adding subscribers.

“Every transaction that occurs at this company emanates from some form of creativity, and therefore it is my number one priority. It is the focus,” Iger explained. “It’s not about how much we create; it’s about how great the things are that we do create.”

He also said there are no plans to change a previously announced hiring freeze.

“I don’t have any plans to not do that. I think that has to continue,” he said. “That’s among the things that are being implemented and it will be considered in terms of length of time as we address the cost structure of the company. It felt like it was a wise thing to do in terms of the challenges, and at the moment, I don’t have any plans to change it.”

In addition, Iger addressed reporting from TheWrap that Disney could potentially consider selling the company to Apple, calling it “pure speculation.”

“We never comment about acquisitions or divestitures,” he added. “You can quickly get into a lot of trouble there, and I don’t want to leave this job and end up in jail, actually.”

Under Iger’s tenure, the Walt Disney Company’s notable acquisitions have included Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and 21st Century Fox.

When asked about whether Disney would make any more acquisitions, Iger said that the company is “very comfortable” with the assets it already has.

“I think they can serve our company and shareholders well for a long time, and there’s no sense of urgency or even interest right now in acquiring anything more, so don’t expect that as a headline any time soon,” he noted.

Earlier this month, Disney’s board revealed Iger was returning for two years, replacing his successor Bob Chapek. The move was prompted by the company’s disappointing earnings results for its latest quarter.

In his first memo to staff last week, Iger said his intention was to restructure the company in a way that “honors and respects creativity as the heart and soul of who we are.”

“As you know, this is a time of enormous change and challenges in our industry, and our work will also focus on creating a more efficient and cost-effective structure,” he wrote. “I’ve asked Dana Walden, Alan Bergman, Jimmy Pitaro and Christine McCarthy to work together on the design of a new structure that puts more decision-making back in the hands of our creative teams and rationalizes costs, and this will necessitate a reorganization of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution.”

As part of the move, DMED head Kareem Daniel has exited the company.

“The announcement I made last week about DMED, which is a work in progress, is designed to do one thing: to restore to the creative businesses the control, responsibility, and accountability over what we create,” Iger reiterated Monday. “That’s how this company has been structured for most of most of its history, and that’s how it will be structured going forward.”

On Monday, Disney stock was down more than 3% and 38% year to date.