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In recession, money matters most

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

The unceremonious dumping of Disney CEO Bob Chapek should be a recession-era warning for CEOs and Executives to focus on revenue, customer satisfaction, and to speak plainly.

When it gets harder to make a dollar, profits matter over everything else. During Chapek’s two years Disney shares fell by 22 percent, destroying about $35 billion in market cap. The crunch came when Disney reported quarterly losses at Disney+ had more doubled to $1.5 billion.

When losses are real, fear dominates, and corporate happy talk makes people angry. What chafed investors was Chapek’s cheery tone, breezily dismissing losses in the streaming division but hyping a turnaround in Disney Parks, mainly due to them now being open compared to covid-era closures.

When customers are watching pennies, they don’t like you taking them. Chapek did try to reverse the revenue downturn, but in ways that angered customers. Disney increased park passes multiple times over two years, started charging $15 a day per person for an app that allowed ride booking, and sacked favourite performers at resorts. In response, customer complaints soared over affordability, broken rides, unclean premises, and poor service.

When you have a service customers want, don’t change it. Disney hasn’t escaped the US culture war, with internal staff battles and parental backlash over content, and the company’s over-reaching battle with high-flying Florida Governor Ron Desantis, resulting in losing Disney’s favoured tax status in the State.

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