Launched in 2014, the Disney Accelerator has worked with companies from across the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Asia in technologies including robotics, artificial intelligence, e-commerce, wearables, messaging and virtual reality. The three-month program that pairs the companies with Disney’s creative expertise and resources to help them develop their products and consumer experiences.
Past accelerator participants currently working with the Walt Disney Company include Sphero, which created the BB-8 droid “Star Wars” toy; Statmuse, an interactive sports stats platform powered by natural language search currently providing ESPN with statistical content; Israel-based Imperson, which launched The Muppets’ Miss Piggy and Disney’s Zootopia chat experiences on Facebook using its artificial intelligence technology; and EMOTIV’s Insight wearable that was featured on ABC “The Bachelor.”
Founded in 2013 by Jens Christensen, Arthur van Hoff and Tom Annau, Palo Alto, Ca.-based Jaunt VR has raised more than $100 million in financing, capped by a $66 million Series C round last September led by Disney, CAA-backed Evolution Media Capital and Jaunt China partner CMC.
Jaunt has been Google’s preferred partner for all its 360-degree video and immersive content, creating the first wave of streamable 360-degree video ads for YouTube, and has also worked on VR projects for ABC and Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame Tour, as well as partnered with Paul McCartney on a six-part documentary series. In March, in formed Jaunt China, a China-based VR company, a joint venture Shanghai Media Group (SMG) and China Media Capital (CMC), two of China’s
largest media companies.
Nom is a live interactive video platform designed to make it easy for users to direct, produce and host their own food shows launched last March by Steve Chen, co-founder of YouTube, and Vijay Karunamurthy, the former engineering lead for YouTube.
Playbuzz is a three-year-old content-creation and audience-engagement platform that enables publishers, marketers, bloggers and brands to easily create content using mobile-friendly formats optimized for social sharing. Headquartered in New York and Tel Aviv, it has raised $31 million in funding.
Other companies chosen for the 2016 Disney Accelerator program are brand/gaming influencer marketplace Ader; mobile ticketing app Atom Tickets; Hanson Robotics, a Hong Kong-based creator of lifelike robots; littleBits, a platform for kid inventors; holographic content platform OTOY; and toy subscription service Pley.