Disney Launches a New Class of Startups at In-House Accelerator
The Walt Disney Company held a graduation ceremony for its in-house accelerator program on Thursday, giving nine companies the chance to pitch their plans to change the entertainment industry.
Now in its third year, the Disney Accelerator gives start-up companies access to Disney executives as they fine-tune their products. The companies are selected from a much larger group of applicants. Disney invests in the companies and gives them office space in Glendale for three to six months. Typically the companies emerge with a deal to serve some branch of the Disney empire. “It’s a personal relationship that really matters,” said Michael Abrams, Disney’s senior vice president for innovation. “It’s about bringing everyone together.”
Among the companies featured at Thursday’s “Demo Day” was Atom Tickets, a social ticketing app that allows friends to plan movie outings together. Michael Bakal, the company’s chairman, said the company had arranged a deal to sell Disney merchandise alongside tickets through the app. Moviegoers would get targeted ads for merchandise as they leave the theater. “We call it the virtual exit-through-the-gift-shop,” Bakal said, noting the deal will launch with the release of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”
Other companies include Ader, which handles advertising and sponsorships for e-sports; Pley, a subscription toy service that uses an algorithm to select appropriate toys for children; and Hanson Robotics, which makes humanoid robots. “I’ve been pursuing the dream of humanlike robots for more than 20 years,” said David Hanson, the company’s CEO.—Reuters