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The backstory: There have been many announcements about tech and banking layoffs late last year into early this year. But media companies are also seeing a lot of restructuring, resulting in layoffs. They've started toning down spending since Netflix announced a loss of subscribers in 2022. That's when Wall Street began to prioritize profit over subscriber growth.
More recently: Disney began making shifts, replacing CEO Bob Chapek with Bob Iger and getting rid of its Disney Media and Entertainment Division. In February, the company announced that it would have a round of layoffs, cutting 7,000 jobs. This move was part of its effort to save US$5.5 billion in costs and make Disney+ profitable.
The development: This week, those layoffs began, and some of the first jobs to go were to its metaverse team with about 50 people. The team was responsible for working with Disney's NFTs, crypto and decentralized finance (DeFi) and generally using tech as a new "storytelling frontier." Disney company veteran Mike White, who led the team, will stay on at Disney, but everyone else will be let go. This action is part of the first of three rounds of layoffs to reach that 7,000 number. The next two waves will take place in April and then before the start of the summer.
"I don't see where, when there are labor shortages in front-facing guest roles, it would be a good decision to lay off workers where the money train starts for the Walt Disney Co," said Paul Cox, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 631.
"Suffice it to say our efforts to date are merely a prologue to a time when we'll be able to connect the physical and digital worlds even more closely, allowing for storytelling without boundaries in our own Disney metaverse," said former CEO Bob Chapek about Disney's metaverse plans in 2021.
"The difficult reality of many colleagues and friends leaving Disney is not something we take lightly," current CEO Bob Iger wrote in an email announcing the layoffs in February.