Disney Entertainment Chief Technology Officer Aaron LaBerge to Step Down After 20 Years

The executive will join PENN Entertainment in June, which operates ESPN’s online sportsbook

Aaron LaBerge (Courtesy of Disney)

Disney Entertainment and ESPN’s chief technology officer Aaron LaBerge is exiting the company after over 20 years.

“This was a personal decision, driven by the needs of my family. I’m working with Alan, Dana and Jimmy to plan a smooth transition, and I’ll be here until the end of June to help ensure a seamless handoff that positions everyone for continued success,” LaBerge wrote in an internal memo to staff. “I’ve never been more confident in our team and leadership. Together, we’ll navigate this change without missing a beat, continuing to build on the significant progress we’ve made over the past 15 months.”

The executive is leaving in June to become CTO at PENN Entertainment, which operates ESPN Bet, the sports network’s online sportsbook.

“This new role is exciting because I’ll get to continue to contribute to our company’s success from a new vantage point, while also being home for my family,” LaBerge added.

In his current role, LaBerge was responsible for driving technology and product development of the two media divisions.

Prior to that, he served as ESPN’s chief technology officer, where he was instrumental in growth of its digital media products and services and was the key architect of the design, development and engineering of ESPN’s facilities in Connecticut, Los Angeles, Charlotte and Austin, as well as data centers and infrastructure that connect those facilities and the technology design and development to support the launch of the multi-platform SEC Network.

Before Disney, LaBerge was co-founder and CEO of Fanzter, Inc., a consumer software and digital production development firm where he directed day-to-day operations and led the development and launch of a variety of consumer-focused internet and mobile products, ground-breaking social and commerce technologies and more.

“I’m excited to join another talented team at PENN Interactive and lead our technology strategy,” LaBerge said. “PENN Entertainment is at the forefront of the fast-changing gaming and sports media industry. I plan to use my experience from Disney and ESPN to help make ESPN BET an essential piece of the sports fan experience. Together, we’ll push the limits and redefine how fans interact with sports and gaming.”

Chris Lawson, Disney’s executive vice president of content operations, will step into LaBerge’s role on an interim basis until a permanent replacement is announced.

“We want to thank Aaron for the contributions he has made and the leadership he has provided at Disney over his 20 years. It is a silver lining that he will continue to help Disney and ESPN win, as he transitions to a role at PENN Entertainment — where he will be a key partner in the continued growth and success of ESPN BET (and the rest of their Interactive business),” Disney Entertainment co-chairs Alan Bergman and Dana Walden and ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro said. “Chris is a fantastic leader who will ensure that we maintain our momentum building on the great strides already made. We look forward to working with Aaron and Chris during this transition as we continue to focus on a bright future for our media businesses.”

LaBerge is the latest veteran executive to leave in recent years, following former Walt Disney Pictures president Sean Bailey, former Disney chief financial officer Christine McCarthy, former CEO Bob Chapek, former head of streaming Kevin Mayer, former Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn, former Disney general counsel Alan Braverman and former communications head Zenia Mucha.


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