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Meet Kareem Daniel, Disney's new gross sales director

Disney has a long history of converting hourly employees into company executives. Kareem Daniel's rise from intern to head the company's newest sales department is no exception.

On Monday, Disney announced that it was restructuring its media and entertainment departments to streamline its direct-to-consumer strategy, which will now focus even more on its streaming services.

As part of the reorganization, CEO Bob Chapek has appointed Daniel, former President of Consumer Products, Games and Publishing, to lead the company's new media and entertainment sales group.

Daniel is no stranger to working with Chapek. After all, the current Disney CEO hired Daniel as an intern while Daniel was working on doing his MBA at Stanford. The couple also worked together when Chapek was Head of Parks, Experiences and Consumer Goods and Daniel was leading the Imagineering program.

Chapek surrounded himself with park staff. In May, when Josh D & # 39; Amaro, former president of Walt Disney World Resort, was promoted to chairman of parks, experiences and consumer goods, Chapek also turned Rebecca Campbell on to lead Disney's direct division. Campbell had been the president of Disneyland Resort.

As CEO, Chapek quickly made his mark on the company. Since taking office in February, the executive has been forced to be reactive as the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed the company's theme park, studio, and live sports businesses.

In August, Chapek said he plans to accelerate the company's push into streaming, which has resulted in a massive surge in subscribers in recent months.

As of August, Disney has 100 million paid subscribers on its streaming offerings – Disney +, ESPN +, and Hulu – of which more than half are Disney + subscribers.

Disney is increasingly reliant on its streaming service as cinemas were unable to recover after the March shutdown due to the outbreak. Ticket sales and pedestrian traffic have been particularly weak in domestic theaters since the industry attempted a large-scale reopening in late August.

That disappointing turnaround has forced Disney and other studios to postpone major blockbuster releases.

This is where Daniel comes in. The 46-year-old will be responsible for making streaming profitable and making key decisions about Disney's theatrical and streaming content and future release plans.

Daniel is from Chicago and has been with the company for 14 years. He has experience in various Disney divisions. In particular, he was vice president of sales strategy at Walt Disney Studios when Disney signed a contract to purchase Marvel Studios for approximately $ 4 billion in 2009.

A self-proclaimed comic book lover and film buff, Daniel was also part of the team that bought Lucasfilm in 2012 for $ 4.05 billion.

Marvel and Star Wars have become an important part of Disney's strategy in the past few years. In addition to being blockbuster hits, generating more than $ 22 billion in the past decade, the two franchises are vital to the company's merchandising, licensing, and theme park businesses.

In 2017, Daniel took the helm as the company's head of theme park designers, known as Imagineers. Under his watch, Disney opened up a number of new lands dealing with popular films and characters. Daniel helped bring Toy Story Land, Pixar Pier, and Star Wars: Galaxy & # 39; s Edge to life. He was also involved in the construction of the Marvel-themed Avengers campus to open in California.

A key element of Disney's overall strategy is how the content flows into other aspects of the business. A film franchise like Star Wars not only promotes ticket sales in cinema and home video sales, but also ticket sales for goods and theme parks. Daniel's experience at Disney brought him into contact with many of the pieces on this chain.

"What we mean by experimental storytelling is that we actively involve our fans through some of the most innovative and fascinating attractions, experiences and products in the world," Daniel said in June 2019 on Forbes' storytelling in a more connected way than ever before. "

In his new role, he will lead all of Disney's streaming services, domestic TV stations and studios, and offer him new ways to promote content across platforms. Alan Horn and Alan Bergman will remain in charge of the company's studios, Peter Rice will continue to lead the company's general entertainment group, and James Pitaro will continue to lead the company's sports content.

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