Disney tech executive Aaron LaBerge leaves company after more than 20 years

A pink-and-white logo for the Walt Disney Company appears on a screen in an office with other screens in the background.
A Walt Disney Co. executive announced that he is leaving the company. (Richard Drew / Associated Press)

Aaron LaBerge, chief technology officer of Disney Entertainment and ESPN, announced Monday that he is departing the Burbank-based media giant and will join casino and sports-betting company Penn Entertainment.

LaBerge will step into his new role as chief technology officer of Penn Entertainment in July, according to the Pennsylvania-based corporation, which offers integrated entertainment, sports content and casino gaming experiences. He has spent more than 20 years at Disney, where he specializes in technology and product for the company's media divisions.

LaBerge will still be affiliated with ESPN because Penn Entertainment is behind ESPN Bet, the sports network's gambling venture.

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“I'm excited to join another talented team at PENN Interactive and lead our technology strategy,” LaBerge said in a statement.

“PENN Entertainment is at the forefront of the fast-changing gaming and sports media industry. I plan to use my experience from Disney and ESPN to help make ESPN BET an essential piece of the sports fan experience. Together, we'll push the limits and redefine how fans interact with sports and gaming.”

In a memo to his team on Monday, LaBerge explained that he had decided to leave Disney for personal reasons related to his family .

Read more: Disney's ESPN to enter online sports betting business with ESPN Bet sportsbook

"Disney is more than just a company to me; it’s been my home, my inspiration, and a part of the most rewarding chapters of my life, both personally and professionally," LaBerge wrote in the memo.

"The true magic of Disney isn’t just in our stories or our technology but in each of you. Your passion, creativity, and brilliance have made my journey unforgettable."

Disney chairmen Dana Walden, Alan Bergman and Jimmy Pitaro later informed staff that the search for LaBerge's replacement is underway. Chris Lawson, executive vice president of content operations at Disney Entertainment and ESPN, will assume an interim leadership role in the months ahead of LaBerge's exit.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.