Disney's Metaverse Division Gets Cut in Latest Round of Layoffs

Months after first being announced, Disney's new metaverse division has been shuttered. As a part of the company's wide-ranging layoffs, virtually everyone at the virtual reality-based outfit has been let go. According to the initial report from The Wall Street Journal, only Mike White, head of the new division and an alum of Disney's consumer products division, remains with the company in an undetermined role. The move to sunset its metaverse efforts will see 50 employees affected by the move.

The division was initially created by former Disney CEO Bob Chapek, who had hoped to get into the realm of digital spaces. "The Walt Disney Company has a long track record as an early adopter in the use of technology to enhance the entertainment experience," Chapek said in 2021. "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, and we look forward to creating unparalleled opportunities for consumers to experience everything Disney has to offer across our products and platforms, wherever the consumer may be."

Why is Disney going through layoffs?

As with many other media juggernauts, Disney executives have said they're hoping to streamline business operations amid increasing economic uncertainty. Disney boss Bob Iger confirmed Monday 7,000 employees will be laid off as a part of the company's latest restructuring efforts.

"The difficult reality of many colleagues and friends leaving Disney is not something we take lightly. This company is home to the most talented and dedicated employees in the world, and so many of you bring a lifelong passion for Disney to your work here," Iger wrote in an internal memo on Monday. "That's part of what makes working at Disney so special. It also makes it all the more difficult to say goodbye to wonderful people we care about. I want to offer my sincere thanks and appreciation to every departing employee for your numerous contributions and your devotion to this beloved company."

After the first round of layoffs this week, a larger round will happen at some point within the next month. According to Iger's memo, a third and final round of layoffs will happen across the company by summer, getting the Mouse to its target goal of 7,000 dismissals.