Pitaro, Pleasants to lead web efforts as co-presidents
Disney has turned to Yahoo entertainment programmer James Pitaro and John Pleasants, CEO of social gamemaker Playdom, to head up the Mouse House’s interactive efforts as co-presidents, several weeks after Steven Wadsworth stepped down from the post.Disney Interactive Media Group runs the company’s websites, social media efforts, mobile and vidgames, among other digital efforts. Pitaro and Pleasants start their jobs Oct. 18. Disney chief Robert Iger made the announcement Sunday, after news of the execs’ appointment began leaking out. Pleasants had been expected to play a major role at the group given that Iger wants DIMG to focus more on launching a successful lineup of games on such social networking sites as Facebook and mobile platforms that can generate the kind of coin that properties like “FarmVille” and “Angry Birds” earn. As co-prexy, Pleasants will continue to run Playdom, which Disney purchased for nearly $763 million in July. He will oversee Disney’s games group, which includes “Club Penguin” and recently launched “World of Cars,” and game development studios that make those and traditional videogame console titles. Role also includes oversight of mobile game company Tapulous, which Disney also picked up this year. Pleasants, who previously served as prexy of global publishing and chief operating officer of Electronic Arts, will be based outside San Francisco. Pitaro will specifically oversee Disney Online, which runs Disney.com, Family.com and socialmedia marketing agency DigiSynd. He was most recently VP and head of media at Yahoo, where he expanded entertainment offerings, following his similar expansion of Yahoo Sports. “Our rapidly growing Disney digital businesses will benefit greatly from the deep experience and distinct leadership skills shown by John and Jimmy,” Iger said. “John has shown incredible agility and skill in helping companies achieve success in the ever-shifting digital games business, while Jimmy has vast knowledge of the online world and has been hugely successful at creating and building audiences around branded online content.” Iger is eager to turn around Disney’s interactive division and make it “more robust and successful” after a series of quarterly losses. During the most recent third quarter, the division lost $65 million.