As part of the impending mass layoffs that will impact as many as 7,000 employees, Disney is eliminating its metaverse division, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
The metaverse team, per WSJ, was tasked with “finding ways to tell interactive stories in new technological formats using Disney’s extensive library of intellectual property.” It employed approximately 50 people, all of whom have been let go, according to WSJ. However, the division’s boss, former Disney consumer products executive Mike White, remains with the company in an undetermined capacity.
Representatives for Disney didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.
The move comes just over a year after Disney created the division under former CEO Bob Chapek. In February 2022, in a memo to employees, Chapek wrote that the team would “create an entirely new paradigm for how audiences experience and engage with our stories.”
Chapek doubled down on the metaverse boosting in September 2022, calling it “next-gen storytelling”; at the same time, he indicated Disney+ “will not just be a movie service platform,” but would instead “embody both the physical things that you might be able to experience in a theme park, but also the digital experiences that you can get through media.”
Those plans never came to pass. Chapek was ousted as CEO in November 2022, following a rough year in the job that among other things included a company revolt over the way Disney responded to anti-gay laws passed in Florida.
The metaverse division being scrapped comes in addition to other losses in Disney’s first round of layoffs, including Mark Levenstein, Hulu’s senior vice president of production; Jayne Bieber, Freeform’s senior vice president of production management and operations; and the VP of development who oversees creative acquisitions for 20th Television Studios, Elizabeth Newman, among other heavy hitters.