Disney Names Aaron LaBerge CTO of Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International
Recently formed DTCI segment begins to take shape
Disney unveiled some important ESPN executive restructuring today with the appointment of Aaron LaBerge as EVP/chief technology officer of the recently formed Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International (DTCI) segment.
Previously CTO of ESPN, LaBerge will be DTCI’s first CTO and a key member of its leadership team, reporting to Chairman Kevin Mayer. He will be tasked with supporting innovation and driving the strategic use and development of technology to power the DTCI business, deliver products and experiences, and provide the technology and operations to deliver those products and experiences.the
“The Walt Disney Company has an incredible history of using technology to create magic, and I am thrilled to help carry that legacy forward,” says LaBerge. “We are in the most dynamic and exciting period in the history of media and entertainment. How we dream up, create, and utilize technology to power content, unleash creativity, and drive business matters more than ever. DTCI will play a critical role in the Walt Disney Company’s continuing to thrive and win in this dynamic environment.”
LaBerge and his team will collaborate closely with Disney Streaming Services, which remains responsible for DTCI’s direct-to-consumer subscription streaming platforms. That means working with Joe Inzerillo (EVP/CTO, Disney Streaming Services), Tilak Mandadi (EVP/CTO, Disney Parks, Experiences, and Consumer Products), and Susan O’Day (EVP, Enterprise Technology/CIO, Walt Disney Company) to ensure synergy across the corporation.
“As a champion of innovation and growth, Aaron will work across our segment and the larger company to develop an industry-leading technology infrastructure to meet future demands,” says Mayer. “Recognizing that the needs of our consumers and clients are constantly changing, he brings a wealth of skill and experience to lead an organization of talented and dedicated individuals in order to strategically respond to an increasingly complex media landscape.”
Having launched in March, DTCI will serve as Disney’s global multiplatform media, product, technology, and distribution organization for all content created by the Studio Entertainment and Media Networks groups. The segment comprises its international media and direct-to-consumer businesses, including all Disney networks outside the U.S., the ESPN+ streaming service, the upcoming Disney-branded direct-to-consumer streaming service, and an ownership stake in Hulu.
According to an official release, the DTCI technology division will showcase nine core teams: Business Platforms, Data Platforms, Information Security, Media Engineering, Media Services, Product Engineering, Product and Design, Technology Operations, and Office of the CTO. The leadership team reporting to LaBerge will include Mike Andrews (SVP, Product Engineering), Michael Cupo (VP, Office of the CTO), John Heerdt (SVP, Media Engineering), Chris Lawson (SVP, Technology Operations), and Mike Napodano (SVP, Business Platforms). The company says that more roles will be filled in the coming weeks.
The DTCI Technology team will also comprise thousands of technologists, engineers, designers, developers, and others, bringing together talent from across the company’s sports, film, parks, and other operations.
LaBerge’s career history includes a run as ESPN EVP/CTO beginning in 2015. Prior to that (2007-13), he was CEO of Fanzter Inc., a venture-funded consumer-software and digital-product–development company he co-founded. He had earlier become part of The Walt Disney Company in 1997 through Disney’s acquisition of Starwave Ventures, the company that produced some of the company’s earliest internet products, including ESPN.com and ABCNews.com.