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ENTERTAINMENT
October 17, 2012 | By Dawn C. Chmielewski and Ben Fritz
Club Penguin founder Lane Merrifield is leaving Walt Disney Interactive two years after a reorganization put him in charge of the entertainment giant's online virtual worlds strategy. He is being replaced by a well-regarded Disney veteran of 10 years, Chris Heatherly, according to a person knowledgeable of the changes who is not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. Heatherly originally designed toys for the company before moving to its digital games division. Merrifield joined Disney in 2007 after its $350-million acquisition of Club Penguin, which pioneered the once popular business of virtual worlds for children -- many of whom spent their parents' money buying digital items.
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ENTERTAINMENT
October 17, 2012 | By Dawn C. Chmielewski and Ben Fritz
Club Penguin founder Lane Merrifield is leaving Walt Disney Interactive two years after a reorganization put him in charge of the entertainment giant's online virtual worlds strategy. He is being replaced by a well-regarded Disney veteran of 10 years, Chris Heatherly, according to a person knowledgeable of the changes who is not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. Heatherly originally designed toys for the company before moving to its digital games division. Merrifield joined Disney in 2007 after its $350-million acquisition of Club Penguin, which pioneered the once popular business of virtual worlds for children -- many of whom spent their parents' money buying digital items.
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SCIENCE
May 18, 2010 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times
With his gaze fixed on a tiny screen, hearing plugged by earbuds and fingers flying, the average teenager may look like a disaster in the making: socially stunted, terminally distracted and looking for trouble. But look beyond the dizzying array of beeping, buzzing devices and the incessant multitasking, say psychologists, and today's digital kids may not be such a disaster after all. Far from hampering adolescents' social skills or putting them in harm's way, as many parents have feared, electronics appear to be the path by which children today develop emotional bonds, their own identities, and an ability to communicate and work with others.
BUSINESS
February 25, 2011 | By Dawn C. Chmielewski, Los Angeles Times
Aiming to strengthen its offerings in online gaming, Walt Disney Co. has acquired Togetherville, a social network for elementary school-age children. Togetherville seeks to mimic the experiences of social networks such as Facebook, but in a way that's protective of children younger than 10 and allows for parental supervision. The site lets children connect with their real-world friends in its virtual neighborhood. "Togetherville is very focused on trying to really reflect what the adult community has been doing on the Web and build a real online experience that adults enjoy for kids, but do it in a safe, COPPA-compliant way," said founder and Chief Executive Mandeep S. Dhillon, referring to the safeguards established by the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. Dhillon said the acquisition, the terms of which were not disclosed, was completed Feb. 18. The Togetherville transaction is the latest digital acquisition by Disney, which in July bought social gaming company Playdom for $563 million and mobile application developer Tapulous.
BUSINESS
August 2, 2007 | Josh Friedman, Times Staff Writer
Moving to increase its online presence among children, Walt Disney Co. said Wednesday that it was buying the Club Penguin virtual community in a $350-million deal that could eventually be worth as much as $700 million. The purchase gives the Burbank-based media giant an immediate foothold in social networking, a fast-growing business that big media companies have been increasingly drawn to in the wake of News Corp.'s 2005 acquisition of MySpace.com.
BUSINESS
September 9, 2009 | Ben Fritz
Continuing to bring in creative talent and properties from the outside, Walt Disney Co. has hired Alex Seropian, a founder of the company behind the hit series Halo, as the creative head for its video game division. In addition, Disney is acquiring Wideload Games, the development studio he runs. The deal comes just a week after Disney agreed to buy Marvel Entertainment Inc. for $4 billion. In 2007 it acquired online virtual world Club Penguin for $350 million. Lane Merrifield, the general manager of Club Penguin, is now working on other online projects for the company.
BUSINESS
October 4, 2010 | By Dawn C. Chmielewski, Los Angeles Times
Two years after Walt Disney Co. merged its video game and Internet units to better coordinate the operations, the entertainment company said Sunday that it would divide the responsibilities for its Interactive Media Group under two newly appointed co-presidents. John Pleasants, a veteran new media executive who joined the company with Disney's acquisition this summer of Playdom, will oversee the games business, including online, console, social and mobile play. He will also continue to operate Playdom, the publisher of games for social networks such as Facebook and MySpace.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 10, 2007 | Martin Miller, Times Staff Writer
Atop the Nickelodeon studios in Burbank is a larger-than-life cavalcade of the cable network's signature animated characters. SpongeBob SquarePants is up there. So is Dora the Explorer, as well as a handful of others. Joining them soon, hope the network's executives, will be Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private -- the raucously comic penguins from the DreamWorks Animation film "Madagascar." Thanks to their Viacom Inc.
BUSINESS
August 30, 2008 | Dawn C. Chmielewski, Times Staff Writer
The newspaper industry is constantly bewailing its need for a new economic model, as the Internet upends the old one. Maybe it could take a page from the Club Penguin Times. The Club Penguin Times, after all, is more widely read than New York's Daily News, the Chicago Tribune or the Dallas Morning News. And it's not even 3 years old. But this weekly "newspaper" isn't tossed onto driveways or sold at newsstands. Rather, it's an online publication distributed to the estimated 6.7 million monthly users of Club Penguin, a snow-covered virtual world visited by more than 12 million kids, who adopt a colorful penguin persona and waddle around, playing games and meeting new friends.
BUSINESS
February 24, 2010 | By Dawn C. Chmielewski reporting from New York
Walt Disney Co. believes that World of Cars, its new subscription-based online community aimed at boys and based on the Pixar movie "Cars," won't get lost in the traffic of virtual worlds. Things are already a bit congested. Some 200 virtual worlds target children under 12. Each competes for a slice of the 10 hours and 45 minutes a day the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that kids spend viewing media, simultaneously vying for screen time against a growing number of portable media players and smart phones that offer their own diversions.
BUSINESS
October 4, 2010 | By Dawn C. Chmielewski, Los Angeles Times
Two years after Walt Disney Co. merged its video game and Internet units to better coordinate the operations, the entertainment company said Sunday that it would divide the responsibilities for its Interactive Media Group under two newly appointed co-presidents. John Pleasants, a veteran new media executive who joined the company with Disney's acquisition this summer of Playdom, will oversee the games business, including online, console, social and mobile play. He will also continue to operate Playdom, the publisher of games for social networks such as Facebook and MySpace.
SCIENCE
May 18, 2010 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times
With his gaze fixed on a tiny screen, hearing plugged by earbuds and fingers flying, the average teenager may look like a disaster in the making: socially stunted, terminally distracted and looking for trouble. But look beyond the dizzying array of beeping, buzzing devices and the incessant multitasking, say psychologists, and today's digital kids may not be such a disaster after all. Far from hampering adolescents' social skills or putting them in harm's way, as many parents have feared, electronics appear to be the path by which children today develop emotional bonds, their own identities, and an ability to communicate and work with others.
BUSINESS
February 24, 2010 | By Dawn C. Chmielewski reporting from New York
Walt Disney Co. believes that World of Cars, its new subscription-based online community aimed at boys and based on the Pixar movie "Cars," won't get lost in the traffic of virtual worlds. Things are already a bit congested. Some 200 virtual worlds target children under 12. Each competes for a slice of the 10 hours and 45 minutes a day the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that kids spend viewing media, simultaneously vying for screen time against a growing number of portable media players and smart phones that offer their own diversions.
BUSINESS
September 9, 2009 | Ben Fritz
Continuing to bring in creative talent and properties from the outside, Walt Disney Co. has hired Alex Seropian, a founder of the company behind the hit series Halo, as the creative head for its video game division. In addition, Disney is acquiring Wideload Games, the development studio he runs. The deal comes just a week after Disney agreed to buy Marvel Entertainment Inc. for $4 billion. In 2007 it acquired online virtual world Club Penguin for $350 million. Lane Merrifield, the general manager of Club Penguin, is now working on other online projects for the company.
BUSINESS
July 10, 2009 | Alex Pham
Google Inc. made waves in the tech world this week when it announced plans to release an operating system called Google Chrome OS that would encourage wider use of something called cloud computing. Although most have never heard of cloud computing, many do it every day.
BUSINESS
August 30, 2008 | Dawn C. Chmielewski, Times Staff Writer
The newspaper industry is constantly bewailing its need for a new economic model, as the Internet upends the old one. Maybe it could take a page from the Club Penguin Times. The Club Penguin Times, after all, is more widely read than New York's Daily News, the Chicago Tribune or the Dallas Morning News. And it's not even 3 years old. But this weekly "newspaper" isn't tossed onto driveways or sold at newsstands. Rather, it's an online publication distributed to the estimated 6.7 million monthly users of Club Penguin, a snow-covered virtual world visited by more than 12 million kids, who adopt a colorful penguin persona and waddle around, playing games and meeting new friends.
BUSINESS
July 10, 2009 | Alex Pham
Google Inc. made waves in the tech world this week when it announced plans to release an operating system called Google Chrome OS that would encourage wider use of something called cloud computing. Although most have never heard of cloud computing, many do it every day.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 10, 2007 | Martin Miller, Times Staff Writer
Atop the Nickelodeon studios in Burbank is a larger-than-life cavalcade of the cable network's signature animated characters. SpongeBob SquarePants is up there. So is Dora the Explorer, as well as a handful of others. Joining them soon, hope the network's executives, will be Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private -- the raucously comic penguins from the DreamWorks Animation film "Madagascar." Thanks to their Viacom Inc.
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