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Disney hiring freeze will stay in place, CEO Bob Iger tells employees

Chief executive officer and chairman of The Walt Disney Company Bob Iger and Mickey Mouse look on before ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, November 27, 2017 in New York City.

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Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger said during his first town hall since returning to the company that he won’t remove the company’s hiring freeze and that he will reassess its cost structure.

Iger kicked off the town hall Monday quoting from the song “What’d I miss?” from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical “Hamilton” that says “There is no more status quo. But the sun comes up and the world still spins.”

After about five minutes of introduction, Iger jumped into taking questions, including many from an in-person audience. Disney employees could submit both named and anonymous questions before the event began.

Iger acknowledged Disney’s focus must shift toward making its streaming business profitable rather than concentrating on simply adding subscribers, which was the company’s priority when he gave up the CEO job in 2020. He noted Disney won’t be pursuing any major acquisitions in the near future, adding he’s comfortable with Disney’s current set of assets.

Iger shocked the business world by returning to the CEO job after repeatedly saying he wouldn’t come back. He replaced his hand-picked successor Bob Chapek, whose nearly three-year run as CEO ended abruptly after a dismal fiscal fourth-quarter earnings report. That prompted several senior executives to tell board members they’d lost confidence in his leadership.

In a memo last week, Iger said one of his first actions will be to redo Disney’s organizational structure, which was changed by Chapek to centralize decision-making over content and distribution under Kareem Daniel. Iger has already fired Daniel and said at the town hall the new structure will take time to put in place and will be done in conjunction with other executives including chairman of general entertainment content Dana Walden, Disney Studios head Alan Bergman, ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro, and CFO Christine McCarthy.

Iger joked his wife, Willow Bay, told him he should run Disney again so that he wouldn’t run for U.S. president — something Iger has thought about in the past.

This story is developing.

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