Disney Interactive pink-slips 40

Disney Interactive — whose computer artists have created such CD-ROMs as “The Lion King” and “Toy Story” animated storybooks — deleted nearly 40 staffers from its ranks this week, about 10% of the unit’s work force.

The cuts were taken from all areas of the division, according to Amy Malsin, communications director for Disney Interactive.

The company said the firings are the final stage in a slimming process begun last spring, when some 90 employees of the computer software unit got the ax.

“We believe this process is now complete, and that we are building a more efficient, flexible and stronger operation,” said Malsin.

Among those pink-slipped were many of the group’s computer artists, including the top marketing exec and one of the two top creative vice presidents, according to sources close to the division.

Since last spring’s layoffs, a steady trickle of staffers, including artists, engineers and finance professionals, have ankled the interactive division, according to sources, who said that the division was in the process of cutting most of its internal production functions in favor of strategies to license its creative development to outside companies.

Senior vice president Jan Smith is now running Disney Interactive, which falls under the management umbrella of the company’s Consumer Products division. Smith took over from Steve McBeth, who announced his formal resignation in August, said Malsin.

Disney Interactive produces CD-ROM titles in the areas of entertainment and edutainment for children aged 3 to 12. The division is also forging partnerships with electronic gaming companies to create titles for next generation platforms such as Sega Saturn, Nintendo 64 and Sony Playstation.

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