An activist investor recently criticized Walt Disney Co. for its lackluster performance in the areas of artificial intelligence and augmented reality. Blackwells Capital highlighted what they perceive to be “significant technological issues” at Disney and urged the company to take action by appointing a single chief technology officer to oversee tech initiatives across all sectors.

Fragmentation Issues at Disney

Blackwells Capital pointed out that Disney currently has two separate chief technology officers – one for entertainment and another for parks, experiences, and products. The investor emphasized the need to eliminate this fragmentation, stating that the current CTOs are struggling under a heavy corporate bureaucracy.

A Call for Change

While Disney has not yet responded to Blackwells’ presentation, the investor’s proposal aligns with industry practices at other tech-focused companies. Netflix Inc. has a CTO within its C-suite, Inc. has a cross-segment CTO outside the C-suite, and Apple Inc. relies on various senior vice presidents for different technological areas within its executive team.

It remains to be seen how Disney will address these concerns raised by Blackwells Capital and whether changes in the company’s technological leadership will be implemented in the near future.

In the fast-evolving landscape of entertainment and technology, Disney’s next CEO may need a strong background in the realm of technology, according to Blackwells. While Bob Iger remains at the helm of the company until 2026, the need for tech-savvy leadership is becoming increasingly apparent.

Embracing Innovation with AI and Spatial Computing

One key opportunity highlighted by investors is Disney’s potential to harness the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and spatial computing. By utilizing AI, Disney could streamline crowd management within its parks. Additionally, with spatial computing, the parks experience could be elevated to new heights. Imagine immersive attractions like a “3-D lightsaber spar with a Jedi on Tatooine” becoming a reality.

A Call for Technological Expertise on the Board

As Blackwells engages in a proxy battle for board seats at Disney, their emphasis on the company’s technological positioning is clear. They advocate for the presence of an independent tech expert on the board, declaring it essential rather than optional.

Addressing Research and Development

Criticism has also been directed towards Disney’s perceived “underspend” on research and development in comparison to other players in the media industry. This highlights the importance of continued innovation and investment in advancing technologies.

With Disney’s annual meeting on the horizon this April 3rd, the spotlight is on the company’s technological vision for the future. As the landscape continues to evolve, embracing cutting-edge technologies may be key to staying ahead in the ever-changing world of entertainment.

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