ESPN has appointed Aaron LaBerge to the post of executive vice president and chief technology officer, making him the second CTO in the network’s 35-year-history.
LaBerge succeeds Chuck Pagano, who announced last April that he was to retire in February 2015. At the time, ESPN identified LaBerge as Pagano’s eventual successor.
In his new, expanded role, LaBerge will head up the strategy and direction of technology across all media and businesses, and will also serve on The Walt Disney Company’s CTO Council and the Disney Research Advisory Board. LaBerge reports to John Skipper, ESPN’s president and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks.
LaBerge got his start at ESPN in 1997 as a software engineer through Disney’s acquisition of Starwave Ventures, a company that was produced ESPN’s early Internet initiatives. He returned to ESPN in January 2013 as senior vice president, technology and product development following six years as a tech entrepreneur and as a co-founder of Fanzter Inc., a startup focused on mobile and Web apps.
Over the past two years, LaBerge worked with Pagano and others on the development and design of ESPN’s second Digital Center at its Bristol, Conn., headquarters. LaBerge also headed up the tech design and development to support the launch of the SEC Network, ESPN said.
“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,” Skipper said, in a statement. “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.”
“Having the opportunity to do what I love — working with technology and sports – is a dream come true,” LaBerge added. “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."