Sheryl in Wonderland?

Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg stepped down from her role as Meta's C.O.O. in June. Photo: Richard Bord/Getty Images
William D. Cohan
September 7, 2022

As part of Dan Loeb’s mid-August return activist campaign at Disney, he proposed to Bob Chapek, the company’s C.E.O., the names of two people whom Loeb would like to see Disney add to its board as part of a general “refresh,” as he diplomatically put it. Loeb, of course, is the billionaire hedge fund manager whose Third Point LLC has some $14 billion under management. He first forayed into Disney stock at the beginning of the pandemic, eventually making a killing, and then sold out of the position earlier this year. Now he’s back, with an investment of around $750 million and a thoughtful list of demands. Loeb’s stake may be less than 1 percent of Disney’s $200 billion market cap, but he knows how to get attention and he knows how to be a nuisance until he gets what he wants: either a tasty profit or the change he is seeking, or both. 

Chapek may want to ignore Loeb’s recommendations but he’d be well-advised not to. Especially when it comes to shaking up the Disney board—after all, it’s simpler than doubling the stock or spinning off ESPN—which I’m told Loeb feels has become too woke and too insular for its own good, and lacking in intellectual diversity. Notably, it is also lacking in executives with experience in entertainment and buzzy metaverse-type businesses. “Third Point has identified potential board members who we believe would make essential contributions to the Company’s Board at this critical time,” Loeb wrote Chapek on August 15. “We would be happy to make an introduction.”