- Many companies are pivoting to plan for the coming metaverse.
- Disney’s “world-class storytelling” will provide the launchpad.
- The metaverse will be one more way for the House of Mouse to connect with its fans.
There’s been a lot of ink spilled in recent months about the metaverse, a simulated domain that will harness augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and other technologies to allow users to interact in the virtual realm.
Meta Platforms — the company formerly known as Facebook — kicked off a digital arms race of sorts when the company changed its name to signal a shift in its priorities to focus on the metaverse.
Until recently, one company that’s been largely left out of the conversation is Disney (NYSE:DIS). Yet several recent developments suggest that the company is planning to use the heft of its media empire to stake a claim in this coming digital world.
Image source: Author.
Quiet as a mouse
Investors hadn’t heard much from Disney about its plans for the metaverse. That changed last week during the conference call to discuss the company’s first-quarter financial results. In response to an analyst question, CEO Bob Chapek laid out a broad outline regarding how the House of Mouse plans to address the coming metaverse and why Disney is uniquely positioned to succeed in the space.
“It is absolutely top of mind because we realize that in the future, you can call it what you want,” Chapek said. “You want to call it metaverse. You want to call it the blending of the physical and digital experiences, which I think Disney should excel at …” The analyst had cited Disney’s “world-class storytelling,” which fuels the success of the company’s movies, theme parks, broadcast and cable television, streaming video, and consumer products.
Chapek went on to provide an example of how it might work:
We realize that it’s going to be less of a passive type experience where you just have playback, whether it’s a sporting event or whether it’s an entertainment offering and more of an interactive lean forward, actively engaged type experience.
While that’s a pretty broad stroke, it shows that Disney is thinking about ways it could harness the power of the metaverse going forward.
The mouse that roared
Just last month, Chapek said in a memo to employees that technological innovation was one of pillars upon which Disney would build its future success. “We have been the world’s foremost innovative storytellers,” Chapek wrote. “That must continue as technology evolves, giving our creative teams new canvases like the metaverse on which to paint.”
On the heels of that pronouncement, Disney has taken the next step in shaping its metaverse strategy. Chapek has appointed Michael White as senior vice president in charge of “next-generation storytelling.” Most recently, White headed up Disney’s consumer experiences and platforms segment. More importantly, however, the exec previously served as the company’s chief technology officer of consumer products and interactive media and has an extensive technology background.
Image source: Getty Images.
In a memo to announce White’s appointment, Chapek said that chief among his duties would be “connecting the physical and digital worlds” for the media giant.
“Today, we have an opportunity to connect those universes and create an entirely new paradigm for how audiences experience and engage with our stories,” Chapek said in the memo. “This is the so-called metaverse, which I believe is the next great storytelling frontier and the perfect place to pursue our strategic pillars of storytelling excellence, innovation, and audience focus.”
Disney has nearly 100 years’ worth of intellectual property at its disposal, so it’s easy to imagine the metaverse as simply the next way in which the company connects its legions of fans with its beloved characters and franchises.
When you wish upon a star…
It’s important to note that while some of the technology necessary to bring the metaverse to life exists, it may be years before we’re able to realize the full potential of this largely conceptual digital realm.
That said, it could represent a significant opportunity. Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak estimates the metaverse could represent an $8 trillion market, so it’s understandable that Disney is working to stake its claim.
This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.
Danny Vena owns Meta Platforms, Inc. and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns and recommends Meta Platforms, Inc. and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long January 2024 $145 calls on Walt Disney and short January 2024 $155 calls on Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.