Disney, ESPN tech Aaron LaBerge is leaving the company

Aaron LaBerge, chief technology officer of Disney Entertainment and ESPN, announced Monday that he is leaving the Burbank-based media giant and joining casino and sports betting company Penn Entertainment.

LaBerge will step into his new role as Penn Entertainment's chief technology officer in July, according to the Pennsylvania-based company, which provides integrated entertainment, sports content and casino gaming experiences. He spent more than twenty years at Disney, where he specialized in technology and products for the company's media divisions.

LaBerge will still be affiliated with ESPN because Penn Entertainment is behind ESPN Bet, the sports network's gambling venture.

“I am excited to join another talented team at PENN Interactive and lead our technology strategy,” LaBerge said in a statement.

“PENN Entertainment is at the forefront of the rapidly changing gaming and sports media industry. I plan to use my experience at Disney and ESPN to make ESPN BET an essential part of the sports fan experience. Together we will push the boundaries and redefine how fans interact with sports and gaming.”

In a memo to his team on Monday, LaBerge explained that he had decided to leave Disney for personal reasons related to his family.

“To me, Disney is more than just a company; it has been my home, my inspiration and part of the most rewarding chapters of my life, both personally and professionally,” LaBerge wrote in the memo.

“The true magic of Disney is not just in our stories or our technology, but in each of you. Your passion, creativity and brilliance made my journey unforgettable.”

Disney chairmen Dana Walden, Alan Bergman and Jimmy Pitaro later informed staff that the search for LaBerge's replacement is ongoing. Chris Lawson, executive vice president of content operations at Disney Entertainment and ESPN, will take on an interim leadership role in the months leading up to LaBerge's departure.

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