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Disney Interactive Media Group Integration Begins With Long List Of Exec Changes; Handler Retiring

imageMajor executive changes at the Disney (NYSE: DIS) Interactive Media Group, according to an internal email from Steve Wadsworth that just went out and has been obtained by paidContent. DIMG combines the Walt Disney Internet Group, which Wadsworth headed, and video gaming unit Disney Interactive Studios. This memo lays out the new organization with two global lines of business — Disney Interactive Studios (DIS) and Disney Online — as the roles for the various execs. Graham Hopper, the current EVP and GM of DIS, will continue to run Disney Interactive Studios while Paul Yanover, current EVP and GM of Disney Online in the US, will run Disney Online (DOL) globally. Club Penguin co-founder Lane Merrifield will run virtual worlds development and operations as part of DOL. Larry Shapiro will be responsible for DIMG global strategy, business development, corp communications and legal. Also, Mark Handler is retiring as head of WDIG International and has agreed to work with the company for the next six months.

Wadsworth: “We are organizing around the global development of interactive media products and content with the ability to focus on local distribution and local content requirements. In addition, we will be poised to take advantage of continued convergence between the game console platforms and the online/mobile platforms as technologies and consumer behaviour rapidly evolve. We are positioning ourselves to maximize the upcoming opportunities and putting the organization on the path to accelerate significant long term growth.”

Update: Meant to mention this earlier but one aspect that may get lost in the thicket of details is the emphasis on connecting the products and managing them on a “coordinated global basis” with Yanover and Disney Online in the lead. Disney Online will focus on the global web properties (including Disney.com, the online casual games portal, Family.com) on all connected media platforms (PCs, mobile devices, consoles, etc.), development and operation of virtual worlds and community/connectivity capabilities. Connecting entertainment platforms and providing content across them is a priority now. Will be interesting to see how it plays out.

The full memo with all the details after the jump.

From: Wadsworth, Steve
Sent: Thursday, July 10, 2008 12:18 PM
To: Wadsworth, Steve

Subject: Disney Interactive Media Group – Organization

DIMG team,

I am pleased and excited to announce today the future structure of the Disney Interactive Media Group (DIMG). As you will see, we are organizing around the global development of interactive media products and content with the ability to focus on local distribution and local content requirements. In addition, we will be poised to take advantage of continued convergence between the game console platforms and the online/mobile platforms as technologies and consumer behaviour rapidly evolve. We are positioning ourselves to maximize the upcoming opportunities and putting the organization on the path to accelerate significant long term growth.

While this communication covers the high level organizational design, much more work remains to implement this at a detailed level, so these changes will take effect only as those details are finalized and communicated over the next 60 days.

First, I want to announce that Mark Handler, the current head of WDIG International, has decided to retire after 24 years with Disney. I have asked Mark to continue to work with this organization over the next 6 months and advise me on international matters as we change the reporting structure of the organization. I want to thank Mark for his 24 years of dedication to the Walt Disney Company and for his 8 years of service and valuable contribution to the WDIG organization. Mark has been instrumental in the development and expansion of Disney

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