Disney announces 9 new startups joining their next accelerator class

by John Siegel
July 12, 2016

Walt Disney Co. unveiled the nine startups slated to participate in the 2016 Disney Accelerator this week, along with a shift to focusing on later stage companies. 

The program, which began in 2014, has ushered through several companies who have gone on to achieve successes, including Sphero, which created the BB-8, a best-selling Star Wars toy, and Statmuse, an interactive sports stats platform powered by natural language search, which currently provides ESPN with statistical content. 

Two of the nine companies participating in the accelerator this year have local roots. Santa Monica-based Atom Tickets has had a big 2016 in terms of funding, and recently launched their movie ticketing and concession app over the Fourth of July. Currently headquartered Downtown, OTOY will also join the accelerator. 

“We are evolving this year’s Disney Accelerator to include many later-stage startups, and for the first time, an internal project,” said Michael Abrams, senior vice president, Innovation, in an announcement. “This year’s Disney Accelerator program is designed to advance a broader spectrum of the strategic investments we make in innovation across all of our businesses.”

Atom Tickets has created a platform that will change the way we see movies. It allows users to invite friends and pre-order tickets and concessions. Founded in 2014, the company has raised more than $50 million in funding.

 

OTOY is building a platform that will bring real-time 3D rendering to users through their browser. Founded in Sherman Oaks, the company has swelled to 60+ employees with four different offices. The company's advisors include Eric Schmidt of Google, Brendan Eich of Mozilla, Sam Palmisano of IBM and Ari Emanuel of WME-IMG.

 

Ader has created a marketplace that connects eSports influencers on Twitch with brands. As the popularity of eSports, and Twitch continues to explode, personalities have found it hard to connect directly with brands, and Ader hopes to remedy that. The San Francisco company was founded in 2014. 

 

Hanson Robotics is a company creating humanlike robots with a caveat: the robots have a full range of facial expressions. 

 

 

Jaunt VR is producing solutions for creating and publishing cinematic-quality virtual reality. The Palo Alto-based company has raised over $100 million to date, and recently launched Jaunt China. 

 

It wouldn't be Disney if there wasn't a child-centric component. littleBits makes easy-to-use electronic building blocks that empowers kids to get excited about STEM. To date, the company has raised over $60 million.

 

Nom is an online live-streaming video community for foodies. The platform allows users to create, share, watch and even participate in live videos, all while chatting and interacting with each other.

 

 

Playbuzz is a content-creation and audience-engagement platform designed to empower and publishers, marketers, bloggers and brands in order to create interesting content using mobile-friendly formats. The company is headquartered in New York City and Tel Aviv.

 

The final member of the 2016 Disney Accelerator class (depending on how you look at it) is Pley, a toy subscription company redefining the way kids acquire their favorite toys. The company has raised more than $16 million to date. They say it’s basically like hiring more security engineers, just without the time, recruiting and turnover costs. I guess it's kind of like hiring the Terminator as your cyber security analyst — which is ironic, since in the movie he was protecting John Connor, who was engaged in identity theft. 

 

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