Aaron LaBerge has been named ESPN’s Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, just the second CTO in the company’s 35-year history.
Reporting to John Skipper, ESPN President and Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks, LaBerge is responsible for oversight, strategic leadership and direction of technology across all ESPN media and businesses. He also serves on The Walt Disney Company’s CTO Council and the Disney Research Advisory Board.
“Aaron is a remarkable technologist, engineer and leader, who has boundless curiosity and a great understanding of the trends shaping the future of media and technology,” said John Skipper, President, ESPN, Inc., and Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks. “Marrying content and technology is central to how we create great experiences for fans. With Aaron and his team we are able to maintain, and expand, this approach as one of our fundamental advantages.”
LaBerge said of the role, “Having the opportunity to do what I love — working with technology and sports – is a dream come true. Working at a company that is uniquely built on innovation and creativity makes that even more extraordinary. Each day our team designs and develops products and platforms at a scale and level of technical sophistication that few can match. Walt Disney said, ‘It’s kind of fun to do the impossible,’ and I couldn’t be more excited to work with this team to continue doing ‘the impossible’ day in and day out.”
LaBerge takes over the leadership and operations of ESPN’s Technology as the successor to Charles E. “Chuck” Pagano. LaBerge is on his second stint at ESPN, having returned to ESPN in January 2013 as senior vice president, technology and product development after six years away as a technology entrepreneur and co-founder of Fanzter, Inc.
Over the last 2 years, LaBerge worked with Pagano and others as a key architect in the development and design of ESPN’s second Digital Center at its Bristol, Conn. headquarters. The 194,000-square-foot is an IP-based facility designed to be “future-proof” — adaptable to the ever-changing technology landscape and capable of supporting any new and emerging media industry formats and standards. He has also led the technology design and development to support the launch of the SEC Network.
Throughout his ESPN career, LaBerge has been instrumental in the growth of ESPN Digital Media. He oversaw the technological development for many of its most ambitious and challenging projects – including the company’s pioneering work in online and mobile video technologies and digital streaming technology – and played a key role in establishing ESPN’s position as a leader in the digital media and new technology development.
LaBerge first joined ESPN in 1997 as a software engineer, through Disney’s acquisition of Starwave Ventures, the company that produced ESPN’s early Internet initiatives.