More than 140 Palo Alto Disney workers laid off

Local job losses part of global staff cuts at Disney Interactive division

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."

— Palo Alto Weekly Staff


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Posted by Charlene
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Mar 14, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Well I certainly hope Disney decides to keep the Playdom game Gardens of Time. It is a social game with a lot of players. Each whom play the game for their own reasons.
Some play because they are lonely. Some play because they are disabled or homebound. Whatever reason they play - they all play and interact in a "community", building friendships that go beyond the game. Caring for each other, worrying about people who have not been seen playing in the game... to the point of calling police and have them check on the person to see if they are ok! Now that is dedication. And that is exactly what the Gardens of Time people are about "dedication" to their team and to their friends. It is a wonderful play to play. I also hope Disney finds it in their hearts to let the game remain "free to play". Because a lot of our people are on disability or social security and live on a very low income and can't afford to pay to play.
I don't live in CA. I live in AR. But people from all over the world play this game. We have been pleading with Disney to let the game remain on-line. I just hope it remains "free to play" for all to enjoy.

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Posted by Compassion
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 14, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Gee, Charlene, way to go to show your compassion for all of the people who now don't have jobs.

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Posted by Regina
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 14, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Hi i live in tn i love gardens of times please don't take it away from us.
I do pay to play and would still do so so please lets find away to keep it up and running there are alot of us that need this game i could go on and on but if you would go on and just read the post from others you would just see how much the game means to all of us that play people from all over the world can come together in on place and play,talk and have fun in one room and doing this from our own home meeting new people every day and night without leaving our home that some of us can't get out of. this is our only way to meet new people please we need you to keep our family together please thank you so much .

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Posted by Chi Girl
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2014 at 9:41 pm

I was diagnose with stage 5 breast cancer in 2010. I started playing GOT on FB first. Then a friend invited me to play on playdom and GOT has played a big part of my recovery status since I was introduced to it. This is my second garden I've had. When we could only go up to 100, I started my current garden, doing things a little different than I did in the first garden which I have closed. Anyway Got give me something to do everyday, since I do not feel like getting out everyday. It helps me feel that I am still connected to the world. If there is anyway possible, please keep it up and running. Thanks ever so much.

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Posted by Debbie Cornelius
a resident of another community
on Mar 16, 2014 at 12:10 am

I so feel for all of the employees that have lost their jobs! Now you want to ruin thousands of lives all over the world as well! I for one have been playing this game for a long time! This is my life.. I have put so much time and money into this game! I have several groups that I am an admin in. My largest being 1600 members. We are a family! There are so many of us that this is what we do for entertainment and now you are going to take it away from us. On more than one occasion I have tried to convince someone not to take their life! I have called the police and stayed on and talked with them long enough for the police to get there to help them. This game has brought people from around the world together! We cry together, pray together, laugh together and joke together! I know that if I don't have this I will no longer be on facebook. This is my only way for human contact! I will not start another game to possibly have this happen again! Please I am begging please don't take this away. Give those employees back their jobs! I was so upset when I first heard about this that I started a petition and it is still going! I created a group for it and we are all working together to try to stop this madness. I have talked with CNN, FoxNews and my local news and am just waiting to hear from them!! This is just not right! This is not the Disney that I grew up with!! Please check out all of the signatures!!!
Web Link

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Posted by high rent area
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 16, 2014 at 12:07 pm

PA seems like kind of a high rent area for videogame programming, which I could care less about. Overstaffed, it appears...

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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