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Disney's Accelerator program emphasizes web3 and the metaverse

Tim Baysinger
Nov 14, 2022
Illustration of a person walking along a gridded hallway towards a bright light

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In a tough year that's left its stock price bruised and battered, Disney is looking to beef up its investments in metaverse and web3 technologies.

Why it matters: Disney sees an opportunity in the virtual world for its merchandise and theme parks business, despite economic turbulence.

Driving the news: Last week concluded this year's Disney Accelerator, a business development program focusing on emerging technologies, by showcasing six companies that participated (here's the list).

  • "We were hoping to make sure that all the companies that we picked were in alignment with where the future of Disney's business is going," Bonnie Rosen, the program's general manager, tells Axios. "For this year, because of all of the metaverse, kind of, opportunity, we ended up deciding on a thesis, like a theme."
  • The accelerator program includes an initial investment in the companies' most recent round as well as warrants for future rounds.

The big picture: Media giants are caught between two worlds: the declining longstanding businesses and rising new platforms.

  • Disney CEO Bob Chapek has spoken often about the company's metaverse strategy and how he views it as an extension of Disney's existing businesses, rather than a fully realized digital world like Meta is trying to build.
  • "For us, it's the physical and digital aspects of your Disney lifestyle coming together," he said during WSJ Tech Live last month.

What's next: Disney hopes to get immediate results from its investments in this year's group.

  • AI company Inworld is looking to develop an AI personality for Disney Star's DisneyStarverse platform.
  • Lockerverse is working with ESPN to launch a free NFT of the upcoming Celebration Bowl Trophy.
  • Obsess, an experiential e-commerce platform, launched the Disney Music Emporium virtual online store in October and is in talks to create retail experiences for Disneyland Resort and shopDisney.

đź’­ Tim's thought bubble: I was fortunate enough to attend Demo Day, and by far the coolest thing was Red 6's AR headset that made it look like actual pilots were flying next to TIE fighters and X-wings from Star Wars.

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