Disney is the latest big company that is looking to cut costs ahead of a predicted global pandemic. The news comes hot off the heels of announcements by both Twitter and Meta that they would be cutting staff in order to balance the books in the past week.
In a memo to staff members regarded as “Disney Leaders”, CEO Bob Chapek admits that measures will have to be taken in order to achieve the “important goal” of Disney+, the company’s dedicated streaming platform, reaching profitability by the 2024 financial year. In addition to the measures Chapek outlined in his email, the CEO also announced the creation of a cost structure taskforce, consisting of Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy, General Counsel Horacio Gutierrez and Chapek himself.
Some of those measures Chapek outlined includes a hiring freeze, except in the instance of a role that is a “critical, business-driving position,” a review of the company’s content and marketing spending working with content leaders and their teams and a review of SG&A costs, having determined that there is room for improved efficiency - “as well as an opportunity to transform the organisation to be more nimble”.
It’s the last measure that has current Disney employees worried of layoffs akin to the aforementioned social media platforms. Within Chapek’s email, he states: “We will look at every avenue of operations and labour to find savings, and we do anticipate some staff reductions as part of this review.”
Chapek ends his message by assuring Disney Leaders he is“fully aware this will be a difficult process for many of you and your teams”. Finishing with: “We are going to have to make tough and uncomfortable decisions. But that is just what leadership requires, and I thank you in advance for stepping up during this important time.
“Our company has weathered many challenges during our 100-year history, and I have no doubt we will achieve our goals and create a more nimble company better suited to the environment of tomorrow.”
The full email sent to employees by Disney CEO Bob Chapek
As we begin fiscal 2023, I want to communicate with you directly about the cost management efforts Christine McCarthy and I referenced on this week’s earnings call. These efforts will help us to both achieve the important goal of reaching profitability for Disney+ in fiscal 2024 and make us a more efficient and nimble company overall. This work is occurring against a backdrop of economic uncertainty that all companies and our industry are contending with.
While certain macroeconomic factors are out of our control, meeting these goals requires all of us to continue doing our part to manage the things we can control—most notably, our costs. You all will have critical roles to play in this effort, and as senior leaders, I know you will get it done.
To be clear, I am confident in our ability to reach the targets we have set, and in this management team to get us there.
To help guide us on this journey, I have established a cost structure taskforce of executive officers: our CFO, Christine McCarthy and General Counsel, Horacio Gutierrez. Along with me, this team will make the critical big picture decisions necessary to achieve our objectives.
We are not starting this work from scratch and have already set several next steps—which I wanted you to hear about directly from me.
First, we have undertaken a rigorous review of the company’s content and marketing spending working with our content leaders and their teams. While we will not sacrifice quality or the strength of our unrivalled synergy machine, we must ensure our investments are both efficient and come with tangible benefits to both audiences and the company.
Second, we are limiting headcount additions through a targeted hiring freeze. Hiring for the small subset of the most critical, business-driving positions will continue, but all other roles are on hold. Your segment leaders and HR teams have more specific details on how this will apply to your teams.
Third, we are reviewing our SG&A costs and have determined that there is room for improved efficiency—as well as an opportunity to transform the organisation to be more nimble. The taskforce will drive this work in partnership with segment teams to achieve both savings and organisational enhancements. As we work through this evaluation process, we will look at every avenue of operations and labour to find savings, and we do anticipate some staff reductions as part of this review. In the immediate term, business travel should now be limited to essential trips only. In-person work sessions or offsites requiring travel will need advance approval and review from a member of your executive team (i.e., direct report of the segment chairman or corporate executive officer). As much as possible, these meetings should be conducted virtually. Attendance at conferences and other external events will also be restricted and require approvals from a member of your executive team.
Our transformation is designed to ensure we thrive not just today, but well into the future—and you will hear more from our task force in the weeks and months ahead.
I am fully aware this will be a difficult process for many of you and your teams. We are going to have to make tough and uncomfortable decisions. But that is just what leadership requires, and I thank you in advance for stepping up during this important time. Our company has weathered many challenges during our 100-year history, and I have no doubt we will achieve our goals and create a more nimble company better suited to the environment of tomorrow.
Thank you again for your leadership.