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espnnewdesign
The new-look ESPN.com.
Paul Allen
Paul Allen

[Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Starwave Creative Director Greg Hollobaugh created the mock-ups.]

A little Friday afternoon trivia for you: Which Seattle tech mogul’s company helped design the original homepage for ESPN.com?

That would be Paul Allen, who founded a Seattle-based software company called Starwave back in the 90s about a decade after leaving Microsoft.

Starwave helped launch the original ESPN.com in 1995 — back then it was called ESPNet SportsZone — as part of a joint venture with the ESPN and unveiled the site at the Final Four in Seattle.

As ESPN re-launched its homepage this week, Allen shared some of the mock-ups for ESPNet SportsZone on Twitter that former Starwave Creative Director Greg Hollobaugh created. I love the fake headline of “Blazers win at the buzzer,” which isn’t surprising given that Allen bought Portland’s NBA team in 1988. There’s also a “Sox trade Jordan to Yanks” headline. Check it out:

On Monday, ESPN.com debuted a brand new homepage design, along with new mobile apps. The clean, more personal design is certainly a far cry from what the site looked like two decades ago, but some of the core aspects still remain relevant. Here are some fun stats from ESPN:

In 1998, ESPN.com saw 1.2 million visits per day, making it the most-visited sports website in the U.S.  In 2014, ESPN.com saw 24.7 million visits in the average day, and more than 9 billion across the entire year. On a recent day this year – March 10, 2015, the first day of NFL free agency – ESPN.com had 2.3 million visits in one hour (4:00 pm and 5:00 pm ET).

In January 2015, ESPN digital properties – which include content across web, apps and video – had 126.5 million monthly unique visitors worldwide, the most ever in the global sports category.

Starwave, meanwhile, helped build sites like ABCNews.com and Outside Online, while also producing CD-ROM titles for people like Clint Eastwood and Sting. The company was acquired by Disney in 1998.

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