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Disney Accelerator (disneyaccelerator.com)
161 points by nickmain on Feb 15, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 50 comments

Disney seems like a great place for a young copyright lawyer to learn how to sue creative people, eventually to graduate to Monsanto and the like. Or to become a lobbyist to extend copyrights ad infinitum. I'm sure this program connects with other parts of the organization, but that's the impression I have of the company.

I feel like this post might lead one of them to think of suing me.

You should apply to this program with a "Free 3D printing of Disney toys" service :)

from a less cynical POV:

this might just be the ONLY way to do your hypothetical idea.

if you're in Disney's accelerator, I'm sure that comes with better access to their copyrights.

Indeed it does.

> Each participating team will receive:

> $120,000 in investment capital

> Access to stories, characters, resources and relationships from across The Walt Disney Company, such as The Walt Disney Studios, Disney Animation, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, ESPN, ABC, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Disney Consumer Products, and Disney Interactive

I didn't have the finger energy to type it, but this call to action struct me as an organization that is sitting on golden franchises with a vacuum of ideas.

You have it all wrong, the graduation is when the lawyer becomes a USA senator or congressman on their behalf.

The accelerator is mostly on the technical side of Disney, such as apps for automatizing the detection of copyright violations.

I'd like to propose a project that automatically turns old fairy tales into modern animated movies without the slow, wasteful process of farming it out to North Korean slave labor.

I think that's about right. Disney is a copyright farm at this point. They buy up content they're unable to create themselves, and package it in formats pioneered by other companies, and milk the copyright system to avoid ever really needing to come up with anything new.

I was going to rebut this with an optimistic outlook but then I went to apply and... well, let's just call the application "tone deaf" and leave it at that


I'm totally in on this. This is an amazing development for the LA startup community.

As an LA native (it made the radio news here on Wednesday), I'm very curious where in the Los Angeles area this is.

Santa Monica/Venice is the startup juggernaut of this area, but media startups tend to run farther afield and I don't know if Disney even has any offices there (maybe ESPN?). I would think, given the realities of the startup world, advisors and investors in particular, not to mention LA traffic, it would have to be on the Westside, right?

Also extremely curious how the IP access works out. Time from, say, a Disney Consumer Products artist to create new art is a big deal (and not cheap). And could DA companies put Disney characters in the iPhone app they're going to sell or is this just to make an effective demo?

Most Disney Studios/Interactive people are in the Burbank/Glendale area. I agree it'd be smart to offer everyone some co-working space in Santa Monica.

I really hope it isn't on the westside. I want some options for tech work that don't require me to buy a house on the westside or drive 1 1/2 hour one way for my commute.

Honestly, me too. I grew up in the Valley and used to live in Burbank and commuted to Hollywood and (of course) Santa Monica — which is, yeah, a harsh drive. It would be awesome if Disney could effectively bring technology startups somewhere beside the Westside.

However, I have to think that Techstars, of anyone, has the data to back up the arguments in favor of accelerators being located near a region's startup ground zero.

Even if Disney was insistent, what would the first advice be from every advisor? Put the central location on the Westside or you're a B player.

And I don't think Disney would necessarily be insistent. For example, Grantland's offices are off on their own in downtown LA. Especially since they can just do a deal with one of the many tech office spaces that operate on the Westside.

Still, perhaps there can be a compromise, like two demo days (one in the studio area, one on the Westside). But I've seen the Westside win too many times to hold out much hope...

That's the best part of LA silly

Agree completely. Do it properly and LA will not have the kind of class war affecting NorCal.

Forcing people to work out of the most congested and expensive parts of LA is going to compound the misery. Why anyone thinks it's a good idea to base themselves West of the 405 is beyond me.

I sincerely hope they base this out of Burbank/Glendale which gives ready accessibility to Pasadena, East LA, Hollywood and further North without commute hell.

Well, why anyone thinks it's a good idea to base themselves East of the East River is beyond me, but different strokes for different folks, I suppose.

You mean the Los Angeles river?

I think Disney has an office in the Burbank area. Co-worker has mentioned he used to contract for them in that area.

Most likely at the Glendale Creative Campus.

Kidoteca (my company) will apply, not because of the funding (although we are lacking money, our investments are larger than what they are willing to invest...)

But because the mentorship and IP access might be very interesting for us.


This is the first accelerator that caught my CEO attention (he for example have no intention of joining Y-Combinator)

EDIT: Why the downvote? :(

> because the mentorship

Who are the mentors?

The first mentor in the list is:

> Robert A. Iger; Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company


How many times a week can you visit him? How many times a week can any of the teams visit him? I guess the fist half of the list is there only for politic reasons, and the real list of mentors begins at "Friends of Disney"

I interned at Disney last summer and met with 1-2 of the people on the list (after cold emailing them). I think many of the upper management of Disney are super-sharp.

It's interesting to see such a broad list of execs. I'm guessing not all are super excited about this (due to 100% participation), but I think the majority would be engaged.

I would add that you probably would not want to visit more than weekly - I work at a big tech company and the CEO (who is famously hands on and detail oriented) and SVPs only meet with key projects 1-2x/month tops.

How'd you like Disney? I've looked up their internships but most of them seem to be quite pedestrian. I'd love to work with the Imagineering team if at all possible.

I had a internship directly with on of the VPs which I met at a recruiting event. It was pretty interesting - I got to learn a ton about Disney.

The problem is that Disney is missing the Silicon Valley style work culture and dynamism. Instead it has too many "pedestrian" positions, as you said, which means things get done slowly. I wish it took a page from internet companies (fewer, smarter generalists).

Interesting, sounds like you had a good time. If that VP is looking for someone this summer, I'd love to be intro'd.

Note that the $120k funding is broken into $20k cash and the option for an additional $100k convertible debt note.

Is there a valuation cap on the convertible note?

I think that's the standard for Techstars these days: http://www.techstars.com/program/faqs/

Looks like its $18k cash and $100k convertible.

Convertible or priced (we did a convertible note). The 100k is optional. It was for us at least.

Can you please explain what convertible debt note means?

Oh man, I love this idea. Disney IP access for a startup could be huge.

Disney IP access for a startup could be huge...

A huge disappointment & strategic error. This thinking is LIke founding a company based on another company's API. Look at people that bet on twitter that way. Fools game, really. after all, Hollywood

Probably they'll have you over a barrel if you're successful enough to need further funding and an extension of your rights to the relevant Disney copyrights though...

A mere bandage on the gaping wound that Disney inflicted on the public domain.

Yeah, $120k (even if only ~20k$ is cash), is a drop in the bucket compared to the WHOLE IP catalog.

Somebody please incubate Monkey Island 3, done in the original Lucasarts style.

But seriously, the potential access to Disney IP is awesome - I wonder how they will structure that.

I'd like to see a pixar's animated movie about Wilbur and Orville as they struggle to make the first flight a reality in their bycicle shop, some plane modeling, hard times, lack of funding, sparkled with some love stories and jelousy between the brothers about whose to be the first pilot and get all the honors. At the end Orville wins, Wilbur takes the pic, their girlfriends leaving NC on a steam ship breaking their relationship and as they watch the plane take off they turn the ship back, jump off and run to them for a happy ending.

I don't want any money, I just want to see that movie in a theater with my kids.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blender_Foundation all the tools are available for amateurs to complete a movie like this.


Wow that f6s applications thing is obnoxious. No, I will not sign in with linkedin or facebook, until I read what we will need to fill out on the application form. So get your popup out of my face... thanks.

Square Enix a few days ago did a similar thing, with access to a few (old) IPs. I wonder if this is a trend?

Disney is a copyright freak. Let's see them releasing anything like Loom or other games they got from Lucas Arts DRM-free, and good luck with that.


I like much of Disney's traditional creative output, but I think it's telling that the biggest featured content on that page is all pre-Disney creations from very-recent acquisitions of more innovative creators: Lucasfilm, Pixar, and Marvel.

I hate seeing Yoda on their page. It's like seeing your ex with her new boyfriend.

Is the whole world welcome to apply? Couldn't find any mention on the FAQ.

According to their official twitter, "Yes - applicants from anywhere worldwide will be considered."


It's magical.

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