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Disney shuffles interactive unit

November 11, 2013

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Walt Disney Co. is shuffling the executive ranks at its interactive division, which last week posted only its second profitable quarter since results began to be broken out in late 2008.

Co-president John Pleasants is stepping down, while co-president Jimmy Pitaro is taking over responsibility for the division.

Pleasants was formerly the CEO of Playdom, the social game company Disney acquired in 2010 for $563 million. Pitaro, a former Yahoo executive, also joined Disney in 2010.

In 2011, the two set a goal for the unit to be profitable in 2013. In the fourth quarter ending in September, the interactive unit had an operating profit of $16 million, but lost $87 million for the full year. Quarterly sales more than doubled to $396 million, boosted by the launch of the video game, “Disney Infinity.”

Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a statement that the move, in part, was to fulfill an original objective to consolidate the interactive division “under one Los Angeles-based leader” after three years of operating improvements. Pleasants had spent half his time in the San Francisco area where he maintained a residence. Pitaro is based in Los Angeles.

The company said during its quarterly earnings last week that it had sold more than 1 million starter packs for “Infinity” after it launched in August.

The release had been delayed from June, pushing the unit’s recovery back a couple months and narrowing the lead time before the mid-October release of “Skylanders: Swap Force.” The Activision franchise, launched in 2011, pioneered the genre that matches physical toys to their on-screen characters.

Shares of Walt Disney slipped 24 cents to $68.34 on trading Monday. Its shares are up almost 38 percent for the year so far.

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