When Bob Chapek took the reins of Disney CEO after Bob Iger retired in February 2020, he had no idea what was about to come. The Covid-19 pandemic was weeks away from hitting the United States, and theme parks full of people can’t thrive (or even operate) in the midst of a pandemic and social distancing.
But Covid-19 wasn’t the only thing impacting Chapek’s time as CEO. Streaming services, which saw an uptick at the start of the pandemic, have leveled off, resulting in less growth for Disney+ than the company expected. Disney also had to navigate a messy PR battle in the wake of Florida governor Ron DeSantis signing the “Don’t Say Gay” bill into law.
Chapek’s tenure was so rough that Iger came out of retirement in November 2022 to replace him — just five months after Disney’s board voted to extend Chapek’s tenure for three more years. Yet even as he leaves the company in worse shape than he found it, Chapek is eligible for a severance pay package worth about $20 million.
Paired with the $32.5 million he made in 2021 and $24 million he made last year between his salary and stock options, Chapek will make about $76.5 million from less than three years of work.
Shares of Disney stock have dropped by nearly 50% over the past year, and its streaming business lost $1.5 billion in the fourth quarter. Additionally, some analysts have called on the company to get rid of ESPN, which Disney acquired in 1996.
Iger’s base salary is $1 million, but he can earn up to $1 million each year in bonuses, plus an annual incentive that could be worth up to $25 million, for a grand total of $27 million per year.
Shockingly, this isn’t the wildest exit Disney has experienced as a company.
Back in 1996, Disney terminated Mike Ovitz after just one year of work. For his roughly year of work, Mike Ovitz received $138 million — $38 million in cash and $100 million in stock. That’s the equivalent of $445,000 for every business day he worked at Disney. Take that 1996 money and convert it to the present day, and Ovitz made the equivalent of $850,000 per day or a whopping $256 million for one year of work.
By that comparison, Chapek’s severance package seems like a steal, doesn’t it?