Disney Technology Chief Aaron LaBerge Exits For CTO Role At ESPN Bet Partner Penn Entertainment

Aaron LaBerge, who helped oversee Disney’s expansion into streaming during two stints totaling 20 years, is exiting the company.

On July 1, the exec will become Chief Technology Officer at Penn Entertainment, holding the same title he did at the end of his Disney run.

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Penn is largely known for its gaming operation. In 2023, the company teamed with ESPN and rebranded its sports book as ESPN Bet.

The news was conveyed to Disney employees by LaBerge as well as a separate message from Disney Entertainment Co-Chairs Dana Walden and Alan Bergman as well as ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro. (Read the full memos below.)

As Disney’s CTO, LaBerge oversaw a number of product rollouts, including the integration of Hulu into Disney+ and the planned launch of an ESPN streaming app.

“We are thrilled to have someone of Aaron’s caliber join our Penn executive team,” Penn CEO Jay Snowden said. “Having overseen a global organization of thousands of engineers, product developers, designers, technologists, and data scientists that created some of the largest scale and most successful media properties in the world, there is no better candidate to lead our technology and interactive division into its future.”

LaBerge said, “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.”

LaBerge was previously EVP and CTO at ESPN from 2015 to 2018. Along with streaming, he was a key architect in the design, development, and engineering of ESPN’s state-of-the-art facilities in Bristol, CT; Los Angeles; Charlotte, NC; and Austin, TX, as well as data centers and infrastructure that connect those facilities around the world. He also oversaw the technology design and development to support the launch of the multi-platform SEC Network.

Between 2007 and 2012, LaBerge was co-founder and CEO of Fanzter, Inc. – a venture-funded consumer software and digital product development company. At Fanzter, he directed all day-to-day operations and led the development and launch of a variety of consumer-focused internet and mobile products as well as social and commerce technologies.

Here is the memo from Walden, Bergman and Pitaro, followed by LaBerge’s memo:

We wanted to share the news below about Aaron LaBerge leaving Disney in June. As Aaron explained, this was a personal decision — one that we have discussed with him and understand and support him in making.

We want to thank Aaron for the contributions he has made and the leadership he has provided at Disney over his 20 years. It is a silver lining that he will continue to help Disney and ESPN win, as he transitions to a role at PENN Entertainment — where he will be a key partner in the continued growth and success of ESPN BET (and the rest of their Interactive business).

As Aaron noted, we have an incredibly talented team, and our work to identify the permanent Technology leadership is already underway, with Chris Lawson assuming interim oversight. Chris is a fantastic leader who will ensure that we maintain our momentum building on the great strides already made. We look forward to working with Aaron and Chris during this transition as we continue to focus on a bright future for our media businesses.

Alan, Dana, and Jimmy


I wanted to share some personal news: this summer, after more than 20 incredible years, I’ve decided to leave The Walt Disney Company.

This was a personal decision, driven by the needs of my family. I’m working with Alan, Dana, and Jimmy to plan a smooth transition, and I’ll be here until the end of June to help ensure a seamless handoff that positions everyone for continued success.

I’ve never been more confident in our team and leadership. Together, we’ll navigate this change without missing a beat, continuing to build on the significant progress we’ve made over the past 15 months.

Chris Lawson will be working closely with me in the coming months, stepping into an interim leadership role upon my departure until a permanent leader is in place. Many of you know Chris as an exceptional technology leader with a deep understanding of our operations and businesses. He has been instrumental in our technology transformation and is a trusted partner to our business leaders.

My journey with Disney doesn’t end here. I’ll be joining the extended family at PENN Entertainment, working with Disney and ESPN on ESPN BET. This new role is exciting because I’ll get to continue to contribute to our company’s success from a new vantage point, while also being home for my family.

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. 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.

Over the coming weeks, we will share more details about this transition and the way forward. Until then, let’s stay focused on the future and continue to build, innovate, and deliver.

All my best,

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