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April 23, 2008 2:15 PM

Mickey's hiring geeks: Disney adding 100 at Seattle tech hub

Posted by Brier Dudley

Ten years after setting up shop in Seattle through its acquisition of Starwave, Disney's again building up its presence here.

Disney Internet Group is planning to expand its team here from 300 to 400 people over the next year, reflecting the Seattle operation's importance to Disney's broad digital strategy, according to John Spelich, vice president for corporate communications.

Disney's employment has been up and down since it made Seattle its Web development outpost when it bought Starwave in 1998. The group had more than 500 employees during the dot-com peak, but cut back dramatically a few years later after the crash and strategy changes.

For years Disney was a major part of the cluster of Web companies in Pioneer Square, where it occupied much of Smith Tower. But the company recently moved a few blocks uptown, to Fourth and Madison.

The Seattle office includes engineering, advertising and operations teams that build and run a platform of services powering the online sites of Disney, ABC and ESPN. They power registration, e-commerce, ad serving and data warehousing for the global network.

Spelich listed some impressive stats for the Seattle operation: It's serving a billion ads a day, handling more than 100 million registered users, and managing 27 million unique visitors a month just at

Among other services run from Seattle are ESPN's fantasy sports group and the network's SMS sports alerts service.

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