Walt Disney has named Mike White to lead the studio’s metaverse strategy.
White becomes senior vp in change of next generation storytelling, Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced in an internal memo obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
“Today, we have an opportunity to connect those universes and create an entirely new paradigm for how audiences experience and engage with our stories,” Chapek said in the internal memo.
White is promoted from his role as senior vp of consumer experiences and platforms at Disney and is charged with getting the studio deeper into the metaverse, which as it evolves is expected to leverage web 3.0 technology to support real-time 3-D rendered simulations of real life on a mass scale.
In its own bet on the metaverse, Facebook rebranded itself as Meta as it shifts to a focus on virtual reality and other new storytelling technologies.
White, who joined Disney in 2011, three years later was named as senior vp and chief technology officer for Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media with an eye to creating new products and consumer experiences. Before that, he was chief technology officer at Disney Interactive.
The complete memo from CEO Bob Chapek follows:
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.
Mike brings to this role 25 years of technology leadership experience, and he has a track record of driving innovation, pushing boundaries, and creating meaningful partnerships. In addition to more than a decade in Silicon Valley, Mike has led product and technology teams across multiple business units here at Disney and has a history of sparking transformation—especially when it comes to bridging the physical and digital worlds. I could not be more excited by the potential for Disney to once again set the bar for a new way of telling stories, and I ask that you support Mike, his team, and the task force in its important work.