September 15, 2000 1:35 PM PDT

Deja.com staff cuts reach executives

In a drastic move to cut spending, Deja.com has slashed its staff by more than one-third, including the elimination of some executive positions.

Deja, which provides information and reviews of a wide range of products, handed out the pink slips Wednesday to 30 staffers in New York and another 20 in Austin, Texas, leaving it with 90 employees.

"We're trying to get lean and run a more efficient operation...This improves our cash-flow situation by narrowing our burn rate," said Richard Gorelick, Deja's chief strategy officer, referring to the rate the company is spending cash. "But we're doing OK."

Gorelick declined to specify how much cash Deja has left but said the company is "not immediately concerned about running out of cash."

He added that the company is open to an acquisition. "We're leaving all of our options open." A sale is "something we're open to as well as remaining independent."

Deja's layoffs come as belt-tightening measures squeeze numerous Internet companies. Most recently, Internet search and directory site AltaVista laid off a quarter of its staff.

The Deja cuts are the latest setback for the company, which this summer withdrew an initial public offering that had languished for a year after first being filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Deja this summer also lost its president, Francine Columbus, after just three months on the job.

Deja originated as DejaNews.com, a site for searching and participating in Internet discussion groups. It changed its name to Deja.com when it decided to focus on product reviews by consumers. The company subsequently added information on consumer products, making it a competitor to sites such as MySimon, which is owned by CNET Networks, publisher of News.com.

"We feel very comfortable with our strategic decision to focus on the buying service," Gorelick said. "It's added a lot of value, and we've developed some very sophisticated industry-leading technologies that will continue to add value as we go forward."

In New York, the layoffs primarily affected jobs in business development, marketing, sales and content. In Austin, the cuts were across the board. Gorelick declined to specify which executive positions had been eliminated, but he said those cuts came in instances where two people shared a single position.

Laid off Deja employees will get some help in finding new jobs from Deja investors, which include Austin Ventures and the Internet Capital Group.

Another investor in Deja is ZDNet, which CNET is acquiring.

News of Deja's staff cuts first appeared in LocalBusiness.com.

 

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