EXCLUSIVE: Jimmy Pitaro to top Disney digital

12:42 PM PST 10/01/2010 by Andrew Wallenstein, AP

Iger to split oversight between Yahoo and Playdom execs

Disney CEO Bob Iger is expected to name at least two replacements next week to the top job at Disney's digital business including Jimmy Pitaro, who signaled he was stepping down earlier this week amid an executive exodus at Yahoo.

But Pitaro, Yahoo's content chief, will split the post previously held by Steve Wadsworth, president of the Disney Interactive Media Group up until last week. Joining Pitaro will be John Pleasants, CEO of casual-gaming company Playdom, which Disney acquired in July.


Jimmy Pitaro
 
Pitaro, according to sources, broke the news to Yahoo staff on Thursday that he was leaving. He as well as his boss, David Ko, and Yahoo's top advertising executive, Hilary Schneider, all exited the company amid turmoil that CEO Carol Bartz has since sought to play down.

Pitaro and Pleasants will likely divide a sprawling array of assets that come under the umbrella of DIMG, which Wadsworth formed in 2006. Iger will likely assign the Disney Online and mobile pieces of the business to Pitaro, while steering the gaming operations--consoles, virtual worlds and casual-- to Pleasants. It is also possible that even more execs will come into the new leadership mix.

UPDATE: Disney confirmed the appointment of Pitaro and Pleasants on Sunday, clarifying that Pitaro will get Disney Online, but not the mobile business, which stays with Pleasants.

The transfer of power at DIMG is just the latest Iger shake-up at leadership levels across all divisions at Disney. Preceding Wadsworth out the door were Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook, ABC Entertainment chief Steve McPherson and ABC News president David Westin.

Pitaro was an up-and-comer at Yahoo, who oversaw all of its content verticals beginning in February of last year after distinguishing himself running the music and sports divisions, respectively. Over the past year at Yahoo, he's overseen an expansion of original content creation ranging from brand-integrated short-form video series like "Primetime in No Time" to the acquisition of content farm Associated Content.

Atop Pitaro's direct reports will likely be Paul Yanover, executive vp and managing director of Disney Online, home to traffic juggernauts including Disney.com and Family.com.

Pleasants had been IDed as a likely successor to Wadsworth after his resignation. Acquired for $763 million, Playdom produces casual games, which has been a high-growth Internet sector drawing increasing investment in recent months from other conglomerates as well, including News Corp.

Formerly of videogame giant EA, Pleasants will likely oversee Disney's growing stable of gaming assets including acquisitions that preceded Playdom, Tapulous and Club Penguin. Direct reports for Pleasants should include Graham Hopper, executive vp and general manager of Disney Interactive Studios.

Speculation that Pitaro was headed for Disney first appeared on The Business Insider.
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