Statistics Alumnus Creates New Disney Products
March 13, 2014
Contact: Rachel Henry
If you've ever wondered where ideas come from at Disney, look no farther than David Horn (B.S., Statistics, 2010). Horn is director of engineering and analytics for Disney Interactive Labs, a division that develops new products and apps for the Internet and mobile media.
Disney first hired Horn in part because his innovative senior project piqued their interest. "For my senior project, I was able to build a whole web app around looking up a Twitter user and doing an analysis based on their profile," Horn said. "It really caught the eye of my current employers. It got them wondering what kind of work I could be doing at Disney."
Horn led the team that pioneered the collection and analysis of data about the company's social media presence. When he was hired, Disney had no idea who was saying what about the company on Facebook or Twitter. "When I started, we were doing it all from scratch," Horn said.
He and his team transformed what was a blank page into a powerful tool for Disney to understand its customers' needs and for fans to connect with one another. Some of his early work, an app that counts the likes on Disney's thousands of Facebook pages, is still online. His recent projects include gesture-based games for Leap Motion and the Mickey Video app.
In his current position, Horn leads the Labs' development team. "The most rewarding thing is mentoring the people on my team and seeing how they grow," Horn said.
As a leader, Horn takes a hands-on approach. "When you're making things, it's not about what your role is, it's about doing what it takes to get it out the door. Last year I wrote the first version of the Mickey Video app. I pick up a broom and sweep the floor if that's what needs to get done at the moment," he said.
Horn still uses statistics, whether he's analyzing the success of products his team built or designing a personalized experience for users on disney.com. And he's still a believer in Learn by Doing. "It's great feeling like you're helping to make something," he said.