Disney’s plan to bring the Magical Kingdom into the metaverse appears to be nothing more than a fairy tale. The entertainment giant laid off 50 employees in their Web3-focused Next Generation and Consumer Experiences department last week. Why did Disney scrap its metaverse team?
Why Did Disney Fire its Metaverse Team?
The mass firing comes on the heels of Bob Iger returning to Disney as CEO after previously leaving the company in 2020. His successor, Bob Chapek, had a rocky tenure leading the $171b company in his absence. The Disney+ steaming service became a money pit and the company’s theme parks struggled during the Covid-19 pandemic. Disney’s stock price shed 44% of its value in 2021 alone, prompting investors to demand a change in leadership.
To this end, Iger announced a 7,000-person layoff last week. The mass firing will help control costs and streamline Disney’s wide array of businesses, Iger claims. The layoffs include the 50-person team in charge of developing Disney’s metaverse strategy, unfortunately.
What Were Disney’s Plans?
This move comes as a surprise after the 98-year-old company announced its intention to enter Web3 in 2022. The company planned on using NFT and blockchain technology to help introduce new profit streams for its library of content. Disney partnered with Layer 2 blockchain Polygon to help their entrance into the metaverse and even posted a job listing for an NFT and DeFi-focused in-house counsel in September.
Before the layoffs, Disney had sought to use metaverse technology to allow fans to enter virtual worlds based on Disney-owned intellectual property. The company planned on offering experiences set in the Star Wars Universe, Pixar movies such as Toy Story and Monsters Inc, and Disney’s own genre-defining franchises.
It remains unclear if Disney will renew plans to enter the metaverse anytime soon. As our lives become increasingly digital, however, it’s likely that the content behemoth will someday circle back around to Web3.
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