According to The Wall Street Journal, Disney has closed its metaverse division and laid off all its 50 members as part of its broader restructuring process. The division was tasked with finding interactive ways to tell Disney’s stories using new technologies and was led by company veteran Mike White, who will remain at the company in an unknown role. The division’s closure also means the cancellation of White’s plan to launch a subscription service for Disney, which would have united Disney+ with the company’s retail operations and theme park apps.
Former Disney CEO Bob Chapek was optimistic about the company’s metaverse ambitions, calling it the “next great storytelling frontier.” However, under the pressure of cost-cutting measures, Disney has announced three rounds of layoffs, with the metaverse team being one of the first teams impacted. While Bob Iger, who replaced Chapek as CEO in November 2022, has shown an interest in the metaverse by joining the board of an animated avatar startup, it is unclear if Disney will continue to pursue its metaverse ambitions. The company will notify the last affected employees by the beginning of summer.
The closure of Disney’s metaverse division is a setback for the company’s ambitions to blend physical and digital experiences in new and innovative ways. However, given the company’s commitment to cost-cutting measures, it remains to be seen if Disney will continue to pursue its metaverse ambitions in the future.
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