Disney Disbands Metaverse Team in the First Phase of a Major Restructuring

Rumors started to swirl after the company replaced CEO Bob Chapek with Bob Iger last month.
Image source: Disney Plus

Quick take:

  • Disney has dissolved its metaverse division in the latest round of Layoffs.
  • The company has previously announced 7000 job cuts that would reduce costs by $5.5 billion.
  • Bob Chapek, who spearheaded Disney’s metaverse strategy was replaced by Bob Iger as CEO last month.

Disney is dissolving its metaverse division as part of its previously announced restructuring plan. In February, the company announced it will be slashing its workforce by 7,000, as part of a cost-cutting measure that will see it reduces operating costs by $5.5 billion.

At the time, Disney also replaced Bob Chapek with Bob Iger as its CEO. The company is reorganising into three divisions namely, Entertainment, ESPN and parks and experiences.

This announcement also comes after the company unveiled a 100-year plan for its envisioned future of entertainment. The company has been actively involved in web3 and metaverse-related projects since last year, and its grand plan for the future of storytelling appeared to be centred on immersive 3D experiences.

At the time, Chapek said: “The question is, how is our next-gen storytelling leveraging what we know about a guest uniquely in this Disney lifestyle, then serving up unique experiences.”

That is what culminated in the formation of a 50-member team to explore how Disney could use its existing intellectual property to re-invent storytelling.

According to the latest update on the restructuring plan, the metaverse team was part of the first wave of layoffs.

Disney launched its foray into the metaverse earlier in 2022 after filing a technology patent for what it called a “Virtual World Simulator”. The company said the technology would enable it to offer “head-set free augmented reality (AR) experiences.

In July, Disney expanded its web3 and metaverse strategy with an accelerator program that onboarded leading web3 and metaverse startups including Polygon, Flickplay, Lockerverse, Inworld, Obsess and Red 6. In September, it posted a job advert for a corporate attorney for NFTs, blockchain, the metaverse and DeFi transactions.

Its India-based subsidiary Disney Star recently launched the Starverse Metaverse, but this is seen as an independent project from the parent company.

Disney’s disbandment of its metaverse division also comes at the back of Microsoft’s and Tencent’s decisions that saw the two tech giants also lay off staff involved in their metaverse projects. Microsoft dissolved its industrial metaverse team, while Tencent laid off 300 employees working on its extended reality (XR) Project.


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