Following Bob Iger’s Viral Email, The Layoffs At Disney Have Begun
Last month, Disney’s new old CEO Bob Iger announced that in an effort to cut costs, the company would be laying off 7,000 Cast Members from across the company. Last week it was reported that those layoffs would start as early as this week, and take place over multiple rounds. Yesterday that plan was confirmed when Iger sent an email to cast members, and the layoffs have already begun, with an entire unit within the company reportedly having been eliminated.
Bob Iger’s email to all Disney employees confirmed that three different rounds of layoffs would be taking place, with the first round set for this week, another happening next month, and a third likely before the summer. In addition to preparing Cast Members for what was to come, Iger also gave what felt like a heartfelt and honest response to the layoffs, knowing that this will be hard for many people. Iger said…
The difficult reality of many colleagues and friends leaving Disney is not something we take lightly. This company is home to the most talented and dedicated employees in the world and so many of you bring a lifelong passion for Disney to your work here. That’s part of what makes working at Disney so special. It also makes it all the more difficult to say goodbye to wonderful people we care about.
While it’s expected that the first round of layoffs will be taking place over the course of this week, the hammer already fell on one Disney unit. The Wall Street Journal reports that the next-generation storytelling and consumer-experiences unit, which was composed of about 50 people, has been eliminated. Only Mike White, the former head of the unit, is currently still with the company, though what position he holds is unclear.
The unit was only created a little over a year ago, under former CEO Bob Chapek, and its primary focus was on finding ways to use the “metaverse” to tell Disney stories in new ways. The metaverse has become a hot buzzword in media circles but it’s clear that it doesn’t actually exist yet, if it ever will, and nobody is quite sure what they’re doing with it. The unit had also been working on creating a Disney membership service similar to Amazon Prime. That initiative is reportedly dead.
This isn't the first Chapek initiative to be eliminated by Iger. Shortly after returning as CEO, Iger dismantled the Disney Media and Entertainment Division, a restructuring of Disney's entire entertainment vertical. Disney has also rolled back some price increases inside Disney Parks that took place just prior to the CEO switch.
A number of higher-up executives with Disney’s cable TV and streaming channels have reportedly also been let go, as part of a plan to consolidate and streamline those segments of the company. It’s not that surprising that people higher up the org chart are being laid off, as those are the jobs that will result in the most significant cost savings for Disney, which is the ultimate goal here.
The next round of layoffs, set for April, are going to constitute the bulk of the 7,000 total layoffs. While all segments of the Walt Disney Company are expected to be impacted by the layoffs, that doesn’t mean all parts of the company will be hit equally. We’ll have to wait and see just what happens next.