August 26, 2018: Sign of Disney store in Denmark on a wall. Disney is an American diversified multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate

Disney Begins Layoffs By Cutting Top Execs

In the first of three rounds of layoffs to be completed by summer

Top executives are among those to lose their jobs at The Walt Disney Company in the first wave of layoffs. Disney announced a strategic restructuring in February to include reorganizing into three divisions, reducing expenses by $5.5 billion, and cutting 7,000 jobs. The changes come just months after Bob Iger’s return to the helm of Disney. He replaced Bob Chapek as CEO, who joined Disney as CEO two years ago when Iger retired. The next wave of layoffs will hit next month with the final round coming before summer.

In a memo to staff on Monday, Iger wrote, “In tough moments, we must always do what is required to ensure Disney can continue delivering exceptional entertainment to audiences and guests around the world – now, and long into the future.”

Along with his thanks to departing employees for their time and talent, Iger asked remaining employees to stand strong, according to a copy of the memo published by Variety.

“For our employees who aren’t impacted, I want to acknowledge that there will no doubt be challenges ahead as we continue building the structures and functions that will enable us to be successful moving forward. I ask for your continued understanding and collaboration during this time.”

Notable exits

Alicia Schwarz, senior vice president and chief compliance officer, was let go. According to Deadline, Horacio Gutierrez, senior executive vice president and general counsel, will absorb Schwarz’s role. The compliance officer role was a standard one with Schwarz overseeing ethical standards, business practices and conduct, and ensuring Disney complied with all relevant rules and regulations in the jurisdiction where Disney operates. Prior to her current role, Schwarz served as vice president and assistant general counsel and global deputy chief compliance counsel.

Isaac Perlmutter, chairman of Marvel Entertainment, was also among those laid off. Marvel Entertainment is a small division of consumer products, run separately from Marvel Studios, reports The New York Times. Perlmutter sold Marvel to Disney in 2009 for $4 billion. Perlmutter was reportedly a controversial distraction, trying to shake up the board by adding friend and activist investor Nelson Peltz to the board.

Other top leaders are also leaving the company including Mark Levenstein, senior vice president production for Hulu; Jayne Bieber, senior vice president production management and operations for Freeform; and Elizabeth Newman, vice president of development, reports Deadline.

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Metaverse division eliminated

Including in the layoffs this week was a unit of Disney that was focused on metaverse strategies. The unit, headed up by Mike White, consisted of about 50 people, all of whom will lose their jobs. So far, White has been spared.

ABC News impacted by the layoffs

Owned by The Walt Disney Company, ABC News will reduce the size of its leadership team and other staffers, cutting about 50 positions in total, reports Variety. Company execs who will be leaving include Wendy Fisher, senior vice president of news gathering; Galen Gordon, senior vice president of talent strategy and development; Mary Noonan, vice president of talent strategy and development; and Alison Rudnick, vice president of corporation communications.

“Throughout the company, teams are being impacted by the downsizing that was announced several weeks ago, including our own ABC News family,” Godwin said in a memo to ABC News staffers Thursday. “While these actions are never easy, they are a necessary step to ensure we’re on solid footing for the years ahead as we chart a sustainable, growth-oriented path forward for the entire organization,” said ABC News president Kim Godwin.

Insider Take

In his brief tenure, Chapek was fighting an uphill battle against a pandemic and a weakening economy. Changes were expected when Iger returned to lead The Walt Disney Co., and layoffs were sure to be a part of that strategy. Major cuts to company execs will cut deep though, and it may be rocky as the company reorganizes under new divisions and new division leaders. Though thousands will lose their jobs, if anyone can turn Disney around, it’s Iger. He is well known and respected, and he knows Disney better than anyone. We are eager to see what other changes he has planned.

Copyright © 2023 Authority Media Network, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited.

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