Walt Disney CEO Shares an Early Plan for a Digital Future

The CEO of Walt Disney Co. recently shared a plan regarding how the theme park, entertainment, and consumer products conglomerate plans to use technology to enhance storytelling for the next one hundred years. 

The Chief Executive person of the company, Bob Chapek, shared the plans a few days back at the company's biennial D23 Expo fan convention. He took great pains to avoid the M-word or Metaverse even though he had pushed his company in that direction last year. 

Describing Disney's vision for the metaverse, Chapek said it was "next-generation storytelling." He wants to use data extracted from theme park visits and streaming habits of the customers to deliver personalized entertainment experiences, including data from the Lucasfilm and Marvel studios. 

Serving Unique Experiences

In an interview, Chapek said, "Disney is absolutely a lifestyle. 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."

This is not the first time Disney has shared its metaverse-related ideas. Several entertainment and technology companies began seeking a position in the metaverse after the CEO of Meta Platforms Inc., Mark Zuckerberg, announced that his company's future would be devoted to creating a robust, three-dimensional, persistent environment where the digital avatars of the users will not only work but also hang out and pursue their hobbies.

Before Meta's announcement, Chapek spent several years preparing to extend the theme park experience to people who would never visit one of the six theme parks of Disney situated in different parts of the world. Chapek was responsible for Disney's parks division before becoming the company's chief executive. 

In 2021, Disney started the process of laying the groundwork so that it could explore storytelling. It even hired veteran media and tech executive Mike White. He was tasked with overseeing the newly created Next Generation Storytelling and Consumer Experiences unit.

Hiring the Right Resource

While hiring White, Chapek wrote a memo about the new role. It read, "Team, For nearly 100 years, our company has defined and re-defined entertainment by leveraging technology to bring stories to life in deeper, more impactful ways. Some of those innovations — like the first synchronization of sound and animation or the revolutionary work of ILM and Pixar — come to life on-screen. Others, like our pioneering of Audio-Animatronics, come to life in the physical world. Today, we have an opportunity to connect those universes and create an entirely new paradigm for how audiences experience and engage with our stories."

"This is the so-called metaverse, which I believe is the next great storytelling frontier and the 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."

"To help connect these in-flight efforts — as well as the work underway to create a more unified Disney experience for consumers — I have asked Mike White, who currently leads Consumer Experiences and Platforms in our Media and Entertainment Distribution group, to take on a new role: Senior Vice President, Next Generation Storytelling and Consumer Experiences. Reflecting the importance of connecting the physical and digital worlds to this work, Mike will report to both Kareem Daniel and Josh D'Amaro."

"While the storytelling that will define our metaverse presence will, of course, emanate from our creative teams, Mike will establish our overall vision and strategy for the consumer journey through these new story worlds. As part of this, Mike will quickly assemble a structure and put in place processes to prioritize and allocate resources, explore partnerships, and facilitate knowledge sharing. Mike will also lead a task force that will include senior leaders from key disciplines across the company, including technology, strategy, and of course, storytelling."






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