Disney Interactive Media Group Integration Begins With Long List Of Exec Changes; Handler Retiring

This story was written by Staci D. Kramer.
Major executive changes at the Disney (NYSE: DIS) Interactive Media Group, according to an internal email from Steve Wadsworth that just went out and has been obtained by paidContent. DIMG combines the Walt Disney Interactive Group, which Wadsworth headed, and video gaming unit Disney Interactive Studios. This memo lays out the new organization with two global lines of businessDisney Interactive Studios (DIS) and Disney Onlineas the roles for the various execs. Graham Hopper, the current EVP and GM of DIS, will continue to run Disney Interactive Studios while Paul Yanover, current EVP and GM of Disney Online in the US, will run Disney Online (DOL) globally.  Club Penguin co-founder Lane Merrifield will run virtual worlds development and operations as part of DOL. Larry Shapiro will be responsible for DIMG global strategy, business development, corp communications and legal. .Also, Mark Handler is retiring as head of WDIG International and has agreed to work with the company for the next six months.

Wadsworth: "We are organizing around the global development of interactive media products and content with the ability to focus on local distribution and local content requirements.  In addition, we will be poised to take advantage of continued convergence between the game console platforms and the online/mobile platforms as technologies and consumer behaviour rapidly evolve. We are positioning ourselves to maximize the upcoming opportunities and putting the organization on the path to accelerate significant long term growth."

The full memo with all the details after the jump. 

From: Wadsworth, Steve
Sent: Thursday, July 10, 2008 12:18 PM
To: Wadsworth, Steve

Subject: Disney Interactive Media Group - Organization

DIMG team,

I am pleased and excited to announce today the future structure of the Disney Interactive Media Group (DIMG).  As you will see, we are organizing around the global development of interactive media products and content with the ability to focus on local distribution and local content requirements.  In addition, we will be poised to take advantage of continued convergence between the game console platforms and the online/mobile platforms as technologies and consumer behaviour rapidly evolve.  We are positioning ourselves to maximize the upcoming opportunities and putting the organization on the path to accelerate significant long term growth.

While this communication covers the high level organizational design, much more work remains to implement this at a detailed level, so these changes will take effect only as those details are finalized and communicated over the next 60 days.

First, I want to announce that Mark Handler, the current head of WDIG International, has decided to retire after 24 years with Disney.  I have asked Mark to continue to work with this organization over the next 6 months and advise me on international matters as we change the reporting structure of the organization.  I want to thank Mark for his 24 years of dedication to the Walt Disney Company and for his 8 years of service and valuable contribution to the WDIG organization.  Mark has been instrumental in the development and expansion of Disney's international digital business.  Today, we have a localized online presence in 24 international territories and a mobile business in 70.  Mark has been invaluable to this successful development of our international markets.

Let me outline some of the key changes that describe the future organization of DIMG:

* In an effort to provide greater coordination on global content and global business execution, we will be operating under two global lines of business: Disney Interactive Studios (DIS) and Disney Online (DOL).
* Disney Interactive Studios will focus on developing and ublishing video games on console, PC, and handheld game devices, with the addition of mobile games.  The group will also be tasked with developing a cross-platform casual game studio capability.  The key change here is that we will build on the existing global game development and creative production capability of DIS to manage mobile game development and production and to build a casual game development capability for the future.
* Disney Online will focus on our global Web properties (e.g., Disney.com, including the online casual games portal, and Family.com) on all connected media platforms (PCs, mobile devices, consoles, etc.), development and operation of virtual worlds (including Club Penguin) and our broader community/connectivity capabilities.  The community function will serve both DIS and DOL products to ensure we have a unified community experience, but responsibility will reside within DOL.  The key change here is that the development and execution of these connected media products will be managed on a coordinated global basis.
* As part of this change, the reporting lines of our content studios will align with these global content groups (e.g., mobile game studios will report to DIS and Club Penguin will become part of DOL).
* With Mark's planned departure and the need to ensure that our key regional market needs are met, I will be elevating the reporting of these regions to be direct reports to me.  At the same time, to better align around global priorities and facilitate the roll-out of global products, we will be creating a dual report structure for the key line of business personnel in the regions.  These individuals will have responsibilities both to the region and to the global groups.
* Developing regions/markets for us, such as Latin America, Russia, and India, will report via the Walt Disney International (WDI) structure within the market, and the resources that are focused on DOL or DIS activities will dual report as in the other regions.
* Our support functions, such as finance and HR, will continue to be organized globally but will remain aligned with the businesses and regions.  We will only centralize to take advantage of opportunities that can best be addressed by activities managed across platforms or territories.

I believe that this is a structure that will build on the strong momentum already in place, create an aligned organization, maximize our existing expertise, support a single connected Disney community and position us well for the future.  While we are moving to a more global structure, this does not remove the desire or willingness to develop local content.  However, it does mean that these opportunities will now need to be balanced more directly with the global priorities of the DIMG organization.  This is a step that I believe is critical for long-term success in the marketplace.

With this organizational structure in place, I'd like to outline the members of the senior management team that I've tasked to drive this forward.

* Graham Hopper, the current EVP and GM of DIS, will continue to run Disney Interactive Studios on a global basis with the expanded responsibilities described above.
* Paul Yanover, the current EVP and GM of DOL in the US, will now run Disney Online on a global basis.  Lane Merrifield, the co-founder and current EVP and GM of Club Penguin, will lead all virtual worlds development and operations as part of DOL.
* Larry Shapiro will be responsible for global strategy, business development, Corp Communications and legal for DIMG, working directly with the lines of business and regions.
* Cindy Rose will run the EMEA region for DIMG.  She will work with Paul to optimize our approach to Disney Online in the region.  Thierry Braille will continue to be responsible for the Disney Interactive Studios business i the region reporting to Graham and to Cindy.
* Duncan Orrell-Jones will run the Japan and APAC region.  He will work with Paul to optimize our approach to Disney Online in the region.  Akira Matsumoto will continue to be responsible for the DIS business in the region reporting to Graham and to Duncan.
* Norbert Chang will run the Greater China region (mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan) for all DIMG lines of business.
* Bud Albers will continue to run Technology Shared Services in support of the broader connected media business for TWDC.
* Bruce Gordon will serve as the group CFO for DIMG.
* Tricia Wilber will continue to run all Advertising Sales for DIMG as part of her broader role overseeing all Disney branded ad sales for all media platforms globally.
* Garry Randall will serve as the global head of HR for DIMG.

I fully understand that for many of you this communication raises a range of important questions that must be addressed quickly.  As you can imagine, there is still a lot of work to be done to address the details associated with this change.  Therefore, a set of targeted transition teams led by the senior executive group will be addressing each area of the organization to ensure that all details and key questions are addressed.  We will be doing this integration work over the next 60 days and will continue to keep you updated on the progress.  In the meantime, it is vitally important that we continue to maintain the considerable momentum each of our businesses has.  Therefore, no action should be taken on this structural change at this time.  You should continue to focus on your current day-to-day business priorities.  More information will soon follow as the integration teams develop detailed plans.

If you have any questions, please raise them either directly with me or your manager.  Also, within the next week you will receive an update that will include a link to an FAQ as well as a link where you will be able to submit questions and feedback.

I look forward to working with all of you to build on our great momentum and maximize our success for the future.

Thanks,

Steve



By Staci D. Kramer
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