Disney had planned to enter the so-called Metaverse for its next-generation storytelling and consumer experience, but The Wall Street Journal reported that the plan was scrapped as part of divisional layoffs. The team, which consists of about 50 employees, will explore how Disney’s existing intellectual property will be leveraged in the Metaverse.
Disney announced its Metaverse ambitions to employees last February when former CEO Chapek appointed Mike White to lead its next-generation storytelling division. White, who is said to be unaffected by the layoffs, has worked at Disney for over a decade.
Disney has reportedly disbanded the team in the first of three planned layoffs. The restructuring is expected to result in 7,000 job cuts across Disney, resulting in cost savings of about $55 billion. Rumours of layoffs began circulating shortly after Bob Iger returned as CEO of Disney to replace Bob Chapek last November.
It’s unclear what specific experiences the team was working on, but it could involve “fantasy sports, theme park attractions, and other consumer experiences,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
Despite the layoffs under Iger, he doesn’t seem sceptical of the Metaverse. According to The Wall Street Journal, Iger is on the board of Genies, a startup that helps create avatars.
Disney and many other companies are struggling to realize their big metaverse ambitions. Meta, for example, has also struggled to promote the adoption of its technology. Meta Quest Pro, the first major VR headset release after the rebrand, was a flop, costing the Reality Labs division $137.2 billion last year.
Many companies, including Disney, are facing difficulties entering the Metaverse. But that doesn’t stop Disney from exploring new technology and storytelling possibilities. Disney has led the entertainment industry many times in its history, so it is expected to continue to take on new challenges.