A total of 143 Disney employees in Palo Alto lost their jobs Thursday, March 6, as part of a global layoff of about 700 staff members at Disney Interactive, the company's video game and digital media division.
An employee who asked to remain anonymous told the Weekly the number of laid-off Palo Alto employees represents about half of the workforce at the 395 Page Mill Road.
In a March 6 letter to the state Employment Development Department, Disney Interactive filed notice of the layoffs under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988 and state labor code.
A broad range of lost positions include animators, artists, developers and engineers, game programmers, producers, analysts,and marketers, and higher-level positions such as managers, directors and associates in most departments. Seven vice presidents also lost their jobs, according to a list the company provided to the state.
The layoffs followed the company's decision to scale back internal development of games and to combine its mobile and social games businesses, The New York Times reported.
The total 700 layoffs represented more than a quarter of the global staff of the Glendale-based Disney Interactive, which published about two dozen games last year, the Times reported, adding that the division will cut its annual game output by as much as half.
In 2010, Disney paid more than $550 million for the Mountain View social online gaming company Playdom, whose employees later moved to Palo Alto as part of Disney Interactive. Many of those workers lost their jobs Thursday.
Former Playdom head John Pleasants resigned as co-president of Disney Interactive in November.
Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Disney Interactive President James A. Pitaro told the Times, "These are large-scale changes as we focus not just on getting to profitability but sustained profitability and scalability.
"This is a doubling down on mobile and an effort to focus much more intently on a core set of priorities."