Disney Entertainment and ESPN are facing a significant change as Aaron LaBerge, the chief technology officer, is leaving the company to join PENN Entertainment. LaBerge, who has played a crucial role in developing Disney’s streaming services and integrating advertising into Disney+, will be taking on the role of CTO at ESPN Bet, the sports media company’s licensed online sportsbook.

Reasons for Departure

LaBerge’s departure is reportedly due to personal reasons related to his family, as mentioned in an internal memo. He will continue to support Disney until June before transitioning to his new role at PENN Entertainment. This move comes at a time when Disney is undergoing significant changes and transformations, particularly in the streaming services and interactive divisions.

The departure of Aaron LaBerge adds to a list of veteran Disney executives who have left the company in recent years. This includes former CEO Bob Chapek, former head of streaming Kevin Mayer, and other top executives. LaBerge’s contributions to Disney, especially in the development of streaming services and technology strategy, will be missed as the company navigates the ever-evolving digital landscape.

With LaBerge’s departure, Disney is already searching for his successor to fill the role of chief technology officer. Chris Lawson, Disney’s executive vice president of content operations, is set to take over LaBerge’s responsibilities on an interim basis. The transition period will be crucial for ensuring continuity in technology leadership within the company.

Aaron LaBerge has been instrumental in setting the vision and strategic leadership for Disney’s use of technology to enable storytelling, drive business, and create consumer experiences. His tenure at Disney, spanning over 20 years, has left a lasting impact on the company’s technological advancements and innovations. LaBerge’s expertise will be valuable in his new role at PENN Entertainment, where he will contribute to the growth and success of ESPN Bet.

Looking Ahead

As Disney navigates the departure of key executives and transitions in leadership, the company will need to focus on continuity, innovation, and building upon the foundation laid by individuals like Aaron LaBerge. The search for LaBerge’s successor and the interim leadership arrangement will be critical in maintaining Disney’s position as a leader in the entertainment and streaming industry. The impact of LaBerge’s departure will be felt across the company, particularly in the technology and interactive divisions where he played a pivotal role.

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