Disney Interactive Co-President John Pleasants Exits

9:53 AM PST 11/11/2013 by Paul Bond

Co-president Jimmy Pitaro has been named head of the division.

Disney has reorganized its interactive division by merging the unit's games and media operating groups and installing co-president Jimmy Pitaro as its head while co-president John Pleasants will remain as a consultant for an unspecified amount of time.

Until Monday, Disney Interactive had been separated into a games unit run by Pleasants and a media division headed by Pitaro.

Disney Interactive had been a drain on profits for several years and Disney CEO Robert Iger has been determined to turn the segment around. Pleasants and Pitaro seemed successful in that endeavor lately, with Disney reporting last week that its interactive segment swung to $16 million in operating income in the fiscal fourth quarter, reversing an operating loss of $76 million a year prior. Revenue for the unit more than doubled to $396 million.

Getting much of the credit for the turnaround is Disney Inifinity, a video game where toy action figures are used to enhance and alter the onscreen experience, though cost-cutting also is a factor. Disney Interactive has seen multiple rounds of layoffs over the past couple of years and 10 months ago it shuttered Junction Point Studios, an asset that created Epic Mickey, a video game where users manipulate Mickey Mouse and his magic paintbrush in order to fixed a damaged cartoon world. Three months later Disney laid off 150 people at LucasArts, effectively killing it as a working video game studio.

"Following three years of consistent operating improvement at Disney Interactive and a great partnership between John and Jimmy, we are now in a position to fulfill our original objective to consolidate our Interactive business under one Los Angeles-based leader," Iger said. "I thank John for his many contributions to Disney Interactive including building tentpole products like Disney Infinity and establishing the company as a leading mobile games publisher and appreciate his passion for bringing Disney experiences to guests on new platforms."

Pleasants joined Disney through Playdom, a maker of social games run by Pleasants that Disney acquired in 2010. Prior to that, he was an executive with Electronic Arts. Earlier in his career he was CEO of Ticketmaster.

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