Bob Iger, less than 24 hours after returning to the helm of Disney, told employees Monday that the company would be undergoing a restructuring in coming weeks.
One of the first steps, Iger announced, would be the departure of Kareem Daniel, the company’s head of media and entertainment, and right hand to now-departed CEO Bob Chapek.
Iger announced Daniel’s departure in a memo to employees of the division, along with a “new structure that puts more decision-making back in the hands of our creative teams and rationalizes costs.”
“This will necessitate a reorganization of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution. As a result, Kareem Daniel will be leaving the company,” Iger said in the memo, which was obtained by CNBC.
Iger said top Disney lieutenants, including Dana Walden, head of general entertainment, Alan Bergman, leader of Disney content studios, ESPN’s James Pitaro and CFO Christine McCarthy would work together on Disney’s new structure “that puts more decision-making back in the hands of our creative teams and rationalizes costs.”
The decision marks the swift undoing of one of Chapek’s primary actions during his nearly three-year tenure as CEO. Chapek reorganized the company to establish the DMED division and consolidate budgetary power for Disney’s content and distribution divisions under Daniel.
“Our goal is to have the new structure in place in the coming months. Without question, elements of DMED will remain, but I fundamentally believe that storytelling is what fuels this company, and it belongs at the center of how we organize our businesses,” Iger said. “This is a moment of great change and opportunity for our company as we begin our second century.”
Daniel has close connections with Chapek, who hired Daniel as an intern when he was working on getting his MBA at Stanford.
The two had worked closely together when Chapek was head of the parks, experiences and consumer products group, and Daniel was head of the Imagineering program, Disney’s theme park designers.
Daniel had worked across several of Disney’s divisions during his tenure. He was vice president of distribution strategy at Walt Disney Studios when Disney closed its acquisition to buy Marvel Studios for around $4 billion in 2009. He was also part of the team that purchased Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4.05 billion.
Marvel and Star Wars would become key pieces to Disney’s strategy, especially in streaming, in recent years.
Daniel, who was at Disney for more than a decade, rose to his latest perch as head of media and entertainment, when Chapek reorganized Disney in 2020 and the now-former CEO quickly surrounded himself with parks staff and accelerated the company’s push into streaming.
In his latest role, Daniel oversaw all of Disney’s streaming services, namely Disney+, as well as domestic television networks and studios.
Shares of Disney rose more than 6% Monday, the day after Disney announced the executive shift.
Read Iger’s memo:
Dear DMED Employees,
As we embark on the transformative work that I mentioned to you in my email last night, I want to begin by offering my sincere appreciation and gratitude to each and every one of you.
Over the coming weeks, we will begin implementing organizational and operating changes within the company. It is my intention to restructure things 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.
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 a result, Kareem Daniel will be leaving the company, and I hope you will all join me in thanking him for his many years of service to Disney.
Our goal is to have the new structure in place in the coming months. Without question, elements of DMED will remain, but I fundamentally believe that storytelling is what fuels this company, and it belongs at the center of how we organize our businesses.
This is a moment of great change and opportunity for our company as we begin our second century, and I am so proud to be leading this team again. I can’t say it enough: I’m incredibly grateful for the tremendous work you do each day, and for your commitment to maintaining the level of excellence Disney has always been known for.
I know change can be unsettling, but it is also necessary and even energizing, and so I ask for your patience as we develop a roadmap for this restructuring. More information will be shared over the coming weeks. Until a new structure is put in place, we will continue to operate under our existing structure. In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and thank you again for all you do.
Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that Bob Chapek was CEO of Disney for nearly three years. An earlier version misstated his tenure.