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Technology: House of Mouse Dives Into Metaverse With Disney Accelerator

By Gary Symons

TLL Editor in Chief

The world’s largest licensor is investing in Web3, metaverse technologies this week, taking six companies into its Disney Accelerator program.

The Disney Accelerator was set up by The Walt Disney Company as a way to help younger tech companies that align with its vision for the future. In this case, Disney has announced that all six of its new partners are focused on Web3 immersive technologies, including augmented reality (AR), NFTs, and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The Disney Accelerator kicks off this week, connecting the 2022 class with the creativity, imagination, and expertise of Disney.

“For nearly a century, Disney has been at the forefront of leveraging technology to build the entertainment experiences of the future,” said Bonnie Rosen, General Manager of the Disney Accelerator program. “The Disney Accelerator is thrilled to be part of that legacy, and with our newest class of companies, we look forward to furthering our commitment to innovation and continuing to bring magical experiences to Disney audiences and guests for the next 100 years.”

Why It Matters To The Licensing Industry

Web3 and the metaverse have been described as the single greatest opportunity facing the licensing industry today, with some analysts saying the metaverse could contribute up to $15 trillion to global GDP.

The metaverse sector already extends into video gaming, ecommerce, film, music, fashion and art, and is already considered the fastest growing sector in licensing. In the art world, NFTs have dominated among metaverse opportunities, but as well, companies like Roblox have done very well setting up ecommerce sites and entire communities in their virtual worlds.

For example, Authentic Brands Group launched a major initiative on Roblox with its brand Forever 21, which partnered with Virtual Brands Group on a program that allowed users to create their own stores, and sell virtual and real fashions on the Roblox platform. It has been both a commercial success and technological coup, winning a Licensing International award in May.

AR and VR technologies are now being used by the world’s retailers, up to and including Walmart, to sell both real and virtual products.

Others that are purely metaverse plays, like Decentraland or The Sandbox, are selling virtual land on which all types of brands are building out a virtual 3D presence, including stores, concert venues, art galleries, and fashion runways.

Disney Focused on New Ways to Tell and Sell

The Walt Disney Company’s focus on Web3 technologies is an acknowledgement that content creation companies in particular will have a defining role in the development of the metaverse. When people enter the metaverse for fun, they’ll be looking for the same things they want in the real world, which primarily includes entertainment.

As the world’s top entertainment licensor, Disney enters the space with a massive library of IP that is ideally suited to the metaverse. Now, Disney is looking for the technologies that will help it exploit that IP in new ways, and tell stories in a manner that could only be dreamed of five years ago.

Over the course of the program, each participant company will receive guidance from Disney’s senior leadership team, as well as a dedicated executive mentor.

The program awards its selected firms with investment capital, guidance from Disney’s senior leadership team, a personal dedicated executive mentor, and a real-world technology showcase at Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank, Calif.

The program typically selects venture-backed, growth-stage startups to take part in Disney Accelerator, and in this case the company has also invited select firms to operate from its Los Angeles-based co-working space for the beginning of its accelerator.

The six companies selected to participate in Disney Accelerator this year include:

Flickplay: Flickplay is a Web3 social app that enables users to discover NFTs tied to real-world locations that they can experience and share via AR.

Inworld: Inworld allows users to create interactive, AI-driven characters for immersive experiences.

Lockerverse: Lockerverse is a Web3 platform that empowers creators and brands to tell culture-defining stories and deliver unique access and experiences.

Obsess: Obsess is an experiential ecommerce platform that enables brands to create immersive 3D virtual stores on their websites and on metaverse platforms.

Polygon: Polygon is a scalable blockchain network that allows developers and enterprises to build Web3 experiences.

Red 6: Red 6 is an AR company that has created a patented headset and interface that works outdoors in dynamic, high-performance environments.

As the company focuses on its next-generation storytelling efforts, Disney says it will continue to work with companies like those in this year’s Accelerator class to help develop new technologies and storytelling canvasses to create connected experiences across physical, digital, and virtual worlds.

For more information on the 2022 Disney Accelerator program, visit http://DisneyAccelerator.com.

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