Bob Chapek’s Metaverse Unit Gets Whacked Amid Disney’s Mega-Cuts

Bob Chapek
Former Disney CEO Bob Chapek (Image credit: Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

As part of its initial effort to eliminate around 7,000 jobs and reduce cost by $5.5 billion, The Walt Disney Co. has eliminated the division charged with developing business around the nascent “metaverse.” 

About 50 workers from the so-called “Next Generation Storytelling and Consumer Experiences” division were let go. Mike White, the former Yahoo executive who led the venture, will be retained and deployed in another capacity. 

The move was first reported by the Wall Street Journal and subsequently confirmed by numerous other outlets. Disney's current CEO, Bob Iger, sent a note to staff Monday outlining the broader scope of the upcoming layoffs. 

The next-gen storytelling division was built and championed last year by former Disney CEO Bob Chapek. And its demise marks the second major dismantling of a recent Chapek creation by Iger, who replaced Chapek in November amid his abrupt ouster. 

Iger's first move in returning to Disney’s CEO office was to axe the Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution division, led by Chapek lieutenant Kareem Daniel

Outlining Disney’s “strategic pillars” in a lengthy staff memo sent 14 months ago, Chapek highlighted what he saw were opportunities in the metaverse for Disney as it reached its 100th birthday. 

“Since Steamboat Willie, we have been the world’s foremost innovative storytellers,” Chapek wrote. “That must continue as technology evolves, giving our creative teams new canvases like the metaverse on which to paint.”

It’s unclear as to what Disney’s nascent metaverse group was working on. Certainly, Disney isn't the only large TMT company to explore metaverse opportunities. Facebook, for example, which recently restructured in a way such that its parent company is now called Meta Platforms, is notably all in on this brave, new world of storytelling few of us understand. 

To date, however, no one has yet proven that there can be a wildly profitable business built on the metaverse in the near term. ■

Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!