Kareem Daniel, chairman of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution under Bob Chapek, has left the company just one day after Disney parted ways with its now-former CEO.
The news was delivered in a letter to employees from returning CEO Bob Iger. In the memo, available in full below, Iger explains that he has put Dana Walden, chairman, Disney General Entertainment Content; Alan Bergman, chairman, Disney Studios Content; Jimmy Pitaro, chairman, ESPN and sports content; and CFO Christine McCarthy in charge of creating a “new structure” that will put decision-making back in the hands of Disney’s creative teams and rationalize costs.
Said Iger, “I fundamentally believe that storytelling is what fuels this company, and it belongs at the center of how we organize our businesses.”
Whereas Chapek’s ousting and Iger’s return came as something of a shock, Daniel’s dismissal is anything but, given the circumstances. Daniels worked closely with Chapek to create the new Media and Entertainment Distribution group which handled distribution, operations, sales, advertising data, and technology for all Disney content.
Using a heavily data-driven approach, the new system was a far cry from how things worked under Iger, who preferred new ideas to come from the company’s creative talent.
Speaking in June of 2021, Iger warned the company against using algorithms to make decisions, explaining, “In a world and business that is awash with data, it is tempting to use data to answer all of our questions, including creative questions. I urge all of you not to do that.”
Now, it seems, Iger is wasting no time in getting back to his way of doing things. He says the company plans to have its new structure in place in the coming months.
Iger’s full employee memo can be seen below:
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.