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Another Web exec leaves Disney

Winnie Wechsler, senior vice president at Buena Vista Internet Group, leaves for educational software company Lightspan.

Another high-level executive has left Disney's Internet arm.

Winnie Wechsler, senior vice president at Buena Vista Internet Group, has resigned from her post, the company confirmed today, responding to rumors of her departure. The 42-year-old is expected to head the Internet business division at Lightspan, an educational software company, according to Buena Vista chairman Jake Winebaum.

At Buena Vista, Wechsler headed the division's international efforts as well as its government and public relations duties, according to the company's Web site. Wechsler worked under Winebaum as well as e-commerce head Chuck Davis.

Before joining Buena Vista, Wechsler also was a primary player in developing and running Disney Online, the company's primary Web site.

"I'm thrilled for her," Winebaum said in an interview. "Winnie has been at Disney for a number of years. She's been a great employee and a great partner.

"[The move] gives her an opportunity to focus on something I think she's very passionate about."

Wechsler becomes the latest in a string of Disney execs to have departed since the entertainment giant acquired 43 percent of the Web portal Infoseek. The merger has produced a management shakeup within the upper ranks of Disney, its former subsidiary Starwave, and Infoseek.

Since the completion of the merger, the companies have jointly developed and released the Go Network, which aims to compete with current portal heavyweights Yahoo, Excite, MSN, Lycos, and America Online.

The roster of Disney defections since the deal includes Disney Online president Richard Wolpert, Disney Online vice president David Vogler, Family.com vice president Susan Wyland, and Starwave veteran Tom Phillips, who is now chief executive at Deja News. Starwave founder Mike Slade has become a "consultant to the Walt Disney company," according to Winebaum.

Winebaum said that the management changes under Buena Vista were a "natural part of any company's evolution." He also said that Wechsler's position would not be readily filled.