Exclusive: Yahoo News Head Moves to Disney.com, Which Will Get Big Redo
Yesterday, BoomTown reported that Mark Walker, the head of the powerful Yahoo News site, was leaving the Internet giant for another company.
That company, sources said, will be Disney, where Walker will be leading a major overhaul of its flagship Disney.com site.
The property, which has largely been a promotional and aggregation play for Disney’s many family-oriented offerings–such as its popular Disney Channel cable television shows–still sees 20 million unique visitors monthly.
Walker will report to Jimmy Pitaro, the former Yahoo media head who is now co-president of Disney’s online division with John Pleasants. Walker worked directly for Pitaro at Yahoo.
Walker’s job, said sources, will be to find a new direction for Disney.com, including adding original programming to the site, as well as more personalization for its users.
It’s a big task for Walker, since Disney’s various Web efforts have a long and often rocky history, from its disastrous purchase of Infoseek in 1998 and efforts to create the Go.com portal to its savvy acquisition of several innovative kid-focused sites such as Club Penguin in recent years.
Still, like many traditional media giants, Disney has never achieved the kind of digital success its spectacular brand has promised. The hiring of Pitaro and Pleasants by CEO Bob Iger was a sign that the company was going to make some big changes again.
BoomTown will query Iger about all this at the ninth D: All Things Digital conference this summer, where he’ll be interviewed onstage.