Monday, December 29, 2014

Tech Meister

Diz Co. prez, pushing envelopes?

CEO Bob Iger's empire of tech

Bob Iger has spent much of his near decade at Disney wearing an additional corporate hat: CTO. The result? He has brought the coolest innovations from Lucasfilm, Pixar, Marvel, and ESPN into a single galaxy.

“Blue sky” experimentation has always been part of Disney’s ethos, going back to the days of multiplane cameras (to add visual depth to the background in the 1937 film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) and early use of lifelike robots (Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room, which features electromechanical singing birds, pioneered the concept in 1963). But more than six decades ago, when founder Walt Disney first created Imagineering as the company’s innovative arm, virtual reality chambers were almost as far-fetched as talking animals.

Fast-forward to today, and not only is virtual reality an actual reality, but the flirtation between technology and entertainment has evolved into an insoluble—albeit sometimes contentious—marriage. ...

Fortune Magazine notes that Diz Co has, under Iger, become a tech company in a major way. I see it when I drive to Glendale and see its newer campus on Flower Street, a stone's throw from DreamWorks. The place is focused on internet entertainment and technical innovations.

But the unspoken reality? Entertainment companies have to own big tech components if they intend to grow and thrive. The marketplace is dragging them along whether they want to be "tech companies" or not. It's not like there's a major choice. Having technology officers is what a company today has to do to prosper.

The smarter conglomerates get that.


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