Disney appoints Mike White to oversee metaverse strategy

Mike White of Disney.
Mike White

Disney has appointed an executive to specifically lead the entertainment giant’s strategy for the metaverse. Mike White, who has been with the firm for more than 10 years, will oversee a team that includes senior leaders.

In a memo to staff, chief executive Bob Chapek said the metaverse is “the next great storytelling frontier” to be explored. Technology giants, including Facebook owner Meta and Microsoft, are pouring billions of dollars into the metaverse.

In the memo, Mr Chapek described the metaverse as a “perfect place to pursue our strategic pillars of storytelling excellence, innovation, and audience focus”.

“Teams across the company are exploring this new canvas, and I have been blown away by what I’ve seen,” he said.

Mr White will become Disney’s senior vice president for Next Generation Storytelling and Consumer Experiences. In the newly-created role he will allocate resources, explore partnerships and encourage knowledge sharing on the metaverse, the company said. He will also lead a team with skills including technology, strategy and storytelling.

Disney said it sees the metaverse as the next evolution of its almost 100-year-old storytelling tradition. “Today, we have an opportunity to connect those universes and create an entirely new paradigm for how audiences experience and engage with our stories,” Mr Chapek said in the memo.

Last week, Disney said sales at its theme parks in the US had climbed above pre-pandemic levels. It also announced that its Disney+ streaming service had added 11.8 million subscribers in the last three months of 2021, taking the total to almost 130 million worldwide. A metaverse is an online world where people can game, work and communicate in a virtual environment, often using VR headsets.

It is being touted by some of the world’s biggest technology companies as a key development in the next generation of the internet. The company formerly known as Facebook has made the biggest bet so far on the metaverse.

Last year, Facebook changed its corporate name to Meta Platforms and said it planned to spend more than $10bn (£7.4bn) to develop virtual reality software and hardware.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has said it was adding 3D virtual avatars and environments to its Teams chat system, as part of its push towards the metaverse.

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