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Disney Appoints ESPN’s Aaron LaBerge as CTO of Streaming and International Division

Aaron LaBerge, previously ESPN’s chief technology officer, is taking on a new role as EVP and CTO of Disney’s recently formed Direct-To-Consumer and International segment.

LaBerge will be the first CTO of Direct-To-Consumer and International segment, reporting to chairman Kevin Mayer. The DTCI business, created in a March 2018 reorg, encompasses Disney’s media and direct-to-consumer businesses globally, including all Disney networks outside of the U.S.; the ESPN+ streaming service; the Disney-branded direct-to-consumer streaming service slated for 2019 launch; and the company’s ownership stake in Hulu.

Since 2015, LaBerge served as EVP and CTO at ESPN, leading the design and development of the sports programmer’s next-generation data, video and audio platforms. He also served on the Disney Research Advisory Board.

As CTO of Disney Direct-To-Consumer and International, LaBerge will lead a technology team comprised of thousands of technologists, engineers, designers, developers and other staffers. The DTCI Technology organization was formed by combining technology teams from across the Walt Disney Co. and will be responsible for linear and digital media distribution technology, ad technology, consumer data platforms, international broadcast operations, and the development, engineering, and deployment of all consumer-facing digital products for the company globally.

“As a champion of innovation and growth, Aaron will work across our segment and the larger company to develop an industry-leading technology infrastructure to meet future demands,” Mayer said in a statement. “Recognizing that the needs of our consumers and clients are constantly changing, he brings a wealth of skill and experience to lead an organization of talented and dedicated individuals in order to strategically respond to an increasingly complex media landscape.”

Disney also outlined the structure of the DTCI Technology organization, which will comprise nine core teams: Business Platforms, Data Platforms, Information Security, Media Engineering, Media Services, Product Engineering, Product and Design, Technology Operations, and Office of the CTO.

The DTCI Technology leadership team — reporting to LaBerge — will include Mike Andrews, SVP of product engineering; Michael Cupo, VP, office of the CTO; John Heerdt, SVP, media engineering; Chris Lawson, SVP, technology operations; and Mike Napodano, SVP, business platforms. Disney said it will announce additional leadership roles in the coming weeks.

LaBerge and the DTCI Technology team will collaborate closely with Disney Streaming Services, the group previously known as BAMTech, which remains responsible for DTCI’s direct-to-consumer subscription streaming platforms. Specifically, LaBerge will work directly with Joe Inzerillo, EVP and CTO of Disney Streaming Services.

Disney said LaBerge also will work with other senior technology leaders at the company, including Tilak Mandadi, EVP and CTO of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Consumer Products, and Susan O’Day, Disney’s EVP of enterprise technology and CIO.

LaBerge, in a statement, said, “We are in the most dynamic and exciting period in the history of media and entertainment. How we dream up, create and utilize technology to power content, unleash creativity and drive business matters more than ever.”

From 2007 until his return to Disney in 2013 (via ESPN), LaBerge was CEO of Fanzter, a venture-backed consumer software and digital product development company he co-founded.

LaBerge first joined Disney in 1997, through Disney’s acquisition of Starwave Ventures, the company that produced some of the company’s earliest internet products, including ESPN.com and ABCNews.com. Before Starwave, LaBerge worked as a senior software engineer at Renaissance Interactive, an early internet development and consulting firm specializing in publishing and content management systems.

A native of Charleston, S.C., LaBerge holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of South Carolina. Based in Bristol, Conn., he spends significant time working in New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere.

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