Dis­ney Launches a New Class of Star­tups at In-House Ac­cel­er­a­tor

Kuwait Times - - WEEKENDER -

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

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