Disney Interactive Co-President John Pleasants resigns

Disney Interactive Co-President John Pleasants is leaving the company, giving control of the Walt Disney Co. video game and digital media subsidiary to Jimmy Pitaro, the unit’s other co-president.

Burbank-based Disney said Monday that Pleasants would remain as a strategic consultant to the business. The executive, who works in the San Francisco area, is expected to serve in that capacity at least through the end of 2013.

“Following three years of consistent operating improvement at Disney Interactive and a great partnership between John and Jimmy, we are now in a position to fulfill our original objective to consolidate our Interactive business under one Los Angeles-based leader,” said Robert A. Iger, chairman and chief executive of Disney.

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Pleasants and Pitaro became co-presidents of Disney Interactive in October 2010. Pleasants joined Disney Interactive after its parent acquired online gaming company Playdom Inc. in July 2010 for $563 million. Pleasants had served as CEO of Playdom, then a popular social media gaming company.


Disney Interactive lost more than $200 million a year between 2008 and 2012. The division lost $87 million for its fiscal 2013, which ended Sept. 28.

The division has a lot riding on the recently launched action-adventure video game Disney Infinity, which is available on multiple platforms including PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and incorporates physical toys into the game-play.

Among Pleasants’ responsibilities was the launch of Disney Infinity, which debuted in August after a years-long development process that cost Disney about $100 million.

“I am extremely proud of the work our teams have done to create leading interactive games and experiences for our guests,” Pleasants said in a statement. “Through quality and innovation, the business is generating tangible results and momentum, and I am confident that consolidating our collective efforts at this time will lead to even greater acceleration.”

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More than 1 million copies of Disney Infinity have been sold.

Disney Infinity is sold in a $75 bundle that includes the game, three figurines and the base that connects the physical toys to the onscreen action.

Iger, discussing fourth-quarter earnings on a conference call with analysts Nov. 7, attributed the division’s successful fourth quarter to the launch of Disney Infinity.

The unit swung to a profit in the quarter, posting operating income of $16 million, an improvement from a $76-million loss from the same quarter a year earlier.

“Retailers are also excited about Disney Infinity this holiday season and so are we ... and all indications suggest the strong demand for Disney Infinity will continue,” Iger said.

Shares of Disney were down 19 cents to $68.39 in midday trading in New York on Monday.


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