A new group has been created within the corporate strategy group at Disney, we’ve heard, and they are gearing up to make a number of consumer Internet acquisitions over the next 24 months. They’re already in early stage discussions with at least a couple of startups, and have introduced themselves to a number of venture capitalists to generate leads.
The group is led by two vice presidents, Leigh Zarelli and Matt Pillar. Zarelli, based in New York, was previously at IAC and was one of the cofounders of Gifts.com. Pillar, a former managing partner at Catalytic Capital, is based in Burbank (near Los Angeles).
We won’t be seeing Club Penguin sized deals ($350 m) coming out of this group. Zarelli and Pillar are focusing only on very early stage deals, we hear. Consumer facing content companies that will fit in to Disney’s overall strategy will be targeted. Their goal, according to our source, is to complete up to twenty deals over the next 24 months.