Disney Moving $20 Million Acquisition Ideal Bite Into Interactive; Laying Off Staff?

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Less than 18 months after acquiring Ideal Bite for $20 million, the Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) is folding the green-living tips company into the Disney Interactive Media Group. Disney spokeswoman Michelle Bergman said it’s not being shut down, that DIMG is “evaluating the situation” and has made no staffing decisions yet. But it may not be that simple. A source familiar with the situation tells paidContent that staff members were told Friday in a conference call that they were being laid off effective Dec. 9. Cofounders Heather Stephenson and Jennifer Boulden, who started the company in 2005, signed three-year contracts in 2008. They have not yet returned voice messages; Leigh Zarelli, a Disney VP working with emerging business acquisitions, referred questions to Bergman. A staffer who did return my call said I may have gotten some misinformation but couldn’t talk about it.

Ideal Bite, which was supposed to be Disney’s answer to DailyCandy, offers seven newsletters and a site that links to ABC.com, ABCFamily.com and other ABC sites. It’s one of a number of “emerging” businesses Disney acquired over the past couple of years, including Digisynd, picked up for $15 million, and FanLib, now known as Take180.com. Bergman says moving Ideal Bite into the Interactive group was always the plan. Technically, the emerging business group is part of DIMG but have been reporting to the corporate strategy group.

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