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Disney restructures, expands M&E distribution tech team to support digital growth

Disney’s Media & Entertainment Distribution Technology group has promoted and hired a handful of executives and realigned it business to better support the entertainment giant’s continued growth, the company said Monday.

The sweeping division known as DMED, is responsible for next-gen direct-to-consumer and linear distribution, advertising technology, engineering, operations and Disney’s digital product portfolio. A new structure creates eight core groups: Advertising Platforms; Business Operations; Consumer Experiences & Platforms; Content Operations; Content Platforms; Design; Engineering Services; and Media Engineering.

Those tapped for new or expanded roles include Mike Andrews, Tagu Kato, Chris Lawson and Michael Pollard. Jeremy Helfand continues to lead Ad Platforms in collaboration with Disney Advertising Sales.

Andrews was named SVP of the new Content Platforms group after several decades leading some of Disney and ESPN’s most challenging engineering projects. Kato, who worked at Nike before joining Disney in 2017, will run the new, centralized Design team as VP. Lawson was elevated to SVP Content Operations (he spent the past several years as SVP Technology Operations. And Pollard has been bumped up to SVP Media Engineering after more than a decade in the media operations and engineering world for ABC and Disney Cable Networks.

DMED Technology’s EVP and CTO, Aaron LaBerge, also welcomed three technologists – Oke Okaro, Jen Schwarz and Mike White – to his senior leadership team.

Okaro joins as SVP Business Operations, returning to Disney after 11 years at Verizon, Bloomberg and Burner Wellness. From 2004-2010, he helped develop ESPN’s mobile business and platform. Schwarz comes aboard as SVP Engineering Services. She was most recently CTO of TicketNetwork and worked previously at Accenture, RPX Corp and The Gap. White joins as SVP Consumer Experiences & Platforms, uniting the engineering and product development teams responsible for the digital product portfolio from ABC, ABC News,, Disney Now, ESPN, FX, Marvel, National Geographic and Star Wars. He joins from Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.

John Heerdt, a 20-year veteran will move from SVP Media Engineering to an advisory position through the end of the year.

Last fall, as Disney pivoted to streaming led by a gangbusters Disney+, the company announced a major streamlining of its media and entertainment businesses, separating content creation from distribution. Distribution and commercialization was centralized into a single global unit, Media and Entertainment Distribution, led by Kareem Daniel, while content creation was divided into three groups: Studios, General Entertainment and Sports headed by Alan Horn and Alan Bergman, Peter Rice and Jimmy Pitaro, respectively.

Disney said the new tech organizational structure aligns the team, which is comprised of thousands of experts, to enhance connectivity and collaboration between software, platform, product, and service teams at all levels and “reinforce a culture of imagination and innovation.”

“DMED Technology is among the most talented and innovative collection of people on the planet and I am inspired and privileged to work with them each day,” said LaBerge. “This new alignment recognizes where our company is today, where it is going tomorrow, and positions us to continue Disney’s legacy of using technology to bring amazing stories and products to consumers everywhere, drive businesses and power innovation.” Deadline

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