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Disney Interactive To Cut 200 Jobs

By | Monday February 3, 2014 @ 2:11pm PST

Disney_InteractiveDisney Interactive is laying off about 200 employees as the fallout continues from the unit’s restructuring that began last fall. The latest job cuts, which are expected to come in the next two or three weeks, were not unexpected after Jimmy Pitaro was tapped to run the division solo in November. ”This is part of Jimmy’s long-term plan to move the division into the black,” an insider told me today. Previously, Disney Interactive laid off 50 employees in September 2012, when the unit sported about 2,000 employees. Pitaro was co-president of Disney Interactive with John Pleasants before the unit’s Games and Media divisions were merged and Pleasants exited.  The pair were installed in 2010, when Bob Iger brought in Pleasants to run the games biz and the social gaming acquisition Playdom alongside Pitaro, who came from Yahoo to head digital media at Disney Online. The layoffs come despite the success of the Disney Infinity multiverse game, which after delays launched in August 2013.

Last April, Walt Disney Studios laid off about 150 as part of a broader reorganization affecting other divisions. The restructure comes as a result of an internal review ordered in late 2012 by CEO Bob Iger and CFO Jay Rasulo to pinpoint superfluous positions and increase efficiency.

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Disney Interactive Co-President John Pleasants Exits As Iger Hands Reins To Jimmy Pitaro

By | Monday November 11, 2013 @ 10:37am PST

Disney Interactive‘s Jimmy Pitaro will step up to helm the Games and Media operating group solo as his former co-president John Pleasants exits his post, the company announced today. Pleasants will stay on as a consultant as Pitaro is upped to President of Disney Interactive, merging both the games and media units into one. The pair were installed in their split co-presidency in 2010, when Bob Iger brought Pleasants to run games biz and Disney’s social gaming acquisition Playdom alongside Pitaro, who came from Yahoo to head digital media at Disney Online. Fast forward three years and web and mobile initiatives have converged at the studio. Despite the recent success of Pleasants’ 1M-unit selling Disney Infinity multiverse game, there could only be one at the helm of Disney Interactive. “Following three years of consistent operating improvement at Disney Interactive and a great partnership between John and Jimmy, we are now in a position to fulfill our original objective to consolidate our Interactive business under one Los Angeles-based leader,” said Iger in a statement. “With Jimmy and John’s input, we have created an Interactive organization that is best structured to meet the demands of the fast-moving technology industry. I thank John for his many contributions to Disney Interactive including building tentpole products like Disney Infinity and establishing the company as a leading mobile games publisher and appreciate his passion … Read More »

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Disney Interactive Restructure Costing Jobs

By | Wednesday January 26, 2011 @ 7:49am PST

UPDATE: The Propaganda closure is just part of a quiet reduction in workforce at Disney Interactive. The unit has also cut a number of console jobs at Junction Point Studios in Austin, bringing the total number of jobs nixed to around 200, or 29% of the total Disney Interactive workforce. Disney Interactive co-heads James Pitaro and John Pleasants have indicated that they are moving in the direction of more social media and mobile gaming.

EARLIER: Disney Interactive is shutting down Propaganda Games, the Vancouver studio which most recently worked on the weak-selling and poorly-reviewed title Tron: Evolution. In the fall, John Pleasants and Jimmy Pitaro were made co-heads of Disney Interactive, and the company has since indicated that it would be going more in the direction of social media gaming and mobile titles rather than console games. In October, Propaganda was told that Disney would be nixing the latest Pirates of the Caribbean game, an announcement which led to the loss of dozens of jobs.

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Bob Iger Splits Top Disney Interactive Job

By | Sunday October 3, 2010 @ 2:52pm PDT

UPDATE: Disney CEO Bob Iger’s strategy thus far has been to promote from within. But he went outside for executives to run Disney’s interactive gaming, social networking, online content, and web and mobile group which he has been expanding recently with $1 billion in acquisitions to position the company on those platforms. Iger decided to split the top job of president: he announced today that Yahoo VP of Media Jimmy Pitaro will Co-President the Disney Interactive Media Group with John Pleasants who also continues as CEO of Playdom, the fast-growing social games publishing company recently acquired by Disney earlier this year for up to $763 million. Pleasants, who won’t be headquartered in Burbank, also will get involved with another recent Disney acquisition, the mobile publisher Tapulous. The moves come simultaneously with Steve Wadsworth exiting Disney Interactive last week. Pitaro was the boss behind three heavily trafficked parts of Yahoo: news, sports and finance and will continue overseeing content at Disney including marketing, DigiSynd, advertising, and non-gaming mobile content. Pleasants will head gaming including mobile gaming. Among the name assets Pitaro and Pleasants will be guiding are the popular virtual world Club Penguin site (acquired before Disney interactive and gaming divisions were combined) and interactive Disney-branded sites like Fairies, Pirates of the Carribean, Toontown Online and The World of Cars Online. (See Disney announcement below.)

Yahoo’s controversial and annoying CEO Carol Bartz has talked about stability and marketshare and branding ever since she joined the portal giant back in January 2009. She may want to focus on staff retention instead. Three of the company’s top executives have bolted: besides the well-liked Pitaro, the other two Yahoo escapees are EVP of sales Hilary Schneider and North American mobile ops head David Ko. The fleeing couldn’t have happened at a worse time for Yahoo which is already in the middle of a major culture shift as it transfers all of its search capabilities to Microsoft’s Bing, which in turn is having a tough time vs. Google. Though this executive defection occurred on Bartz’s watch, the problems at Yahoo began with Terry Semel and kept going though Jerry Yang (who co-founded the company and took back control for awhile.) What’s worse, Yahoo’s stock has dropped about $15 this year. So for all the cost-cutting and bravado Bartz has introduced to the company, it doesn’t look like any of it is paying off. Then again, she only has 18 months left on her contract right now.

BURBANK, Calif., October 3, 2010 — John Pleasants and James Pitaro have been named Co-Presidents, Disney Interactive Media Group (DIMG), it was announced today by Disney President and CEO Robert A. Iger.

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