Disney’s next-gen storytelling and customer experiences division, which had explored how the company could enter the so-called metaverse, has been eliminated according The Wall Street Journal. The team is thought to have consisted of around 50 employees and was exploring how Disney could use its existing intellectual property in what former CEO Bob Chapek called “the next big frontier in storytelling.”
The division was announced internally last February
Disney announced its metaverse ambitions to its employees last February — four months after Facebook renamed itself Meta — when then-CEO Bob Chapek appointed Mike White to lead the next-gen storytelling unit. White, who was reportedly unaffected by the layoffs, has worked at Disney for more than a decade. His LinkedIn profile says he originally started in the company’s Disney Interactive video games division.
“For nearly 100 years, our company has defined and redefined entertainment by leveraging technology to bring stories to life in deeper, more impactful ways,” Chapek said in last year’s memo. “Today we have the opportunity to connect these universes and create a whole new paradigm for how audiences experience and engage with our stories… It’s called the metaverse.” It’s unclear exactly what experiments the team was working on, but WSJ notes that they could have involved “fantasy sports, theme park attractions, and other consumer experiences”.
Disney did not immediately respond to The edgerequest for comment.
Although the cuts took place under Iger, he appears to be far from a skeptical metaverse, with WSJ noting that he sits on the board of a startup, Genies Inc, which focuses on helping users create avatars.
Disney isn’t the only company struggling to deliver on big ambitions for the Metaverse. Even Meta has struggled to get its technology adopted. Its first major VR headset release after the name change, the Meta Quest Pro, was terrible, and its Reality Labs division posted an operating loss of $13.72 billion last year.