Content Companies Continue Cuts

It's been a week of déjà vu for dot-com layoffs. With the list of companies closing or cutting staff growing at a staggering rate, the names start to blur to the point where you can't be sure whether its Pets.com, Petopia.com, or Yourpetnamehere.com that went under. Sometimes it even seems you've read the story before. And in this case you have.

This week, three entertainment content companies, Icebox.com, Z.com and Hollywood.com, all executed a second round of layoffs in the hopes to keep the companies afloat in these cash poor times.

Icebox.com, which cut its staff in half last November from 100 to 50, let another 11 people go this week. A spokesperson for Icebox stated that these layoffs were a continuation of the streamlining process begun in November. The latest layoffs hit production hardest, but were spread throughout the company. Fans of Queer Duck or Zombie College need not fear, as Icebox is continuing production with a staff of 30, and the spokesperson indicated that as from the outside looking in, all was normal at Icebox.com.

Icebox was seed funded by eCompanies, the incubator created by Sky Dayton and Jake Winebaum, to rapidly launch Internet start-ups and help them to grow into profitable, long-lasting franchises.

Reportedly all but four of Z.com's staff were recently let go. Attempts to reach the company were prevented by a glitch in the voicemail system, locking callers out of the dial by name directory.

In October, the Los Angeles-based Web content company laid off about 50 percent of its staff, following the acquisition of an undisclosed amount of funding through licensing and investment deals.

According to Karen Drasler, spokeswoman for Z.com who spoke to streamingmedia.com in October, the company felt it had enough funds to remain operational until the spring of 2001, but it was still courting the financial market for funding options to extend that date. Drasler also stated that the company would remain committed to producing original content, but that no new content will be produced without first acquiring a sponsor. The company had taken on a strategy to pursue licensing its content — both online and offline.

Z.com was founded with funding from idealab!, Basic Entertainment, 3 Arts Entertainment, film producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Maverick Records partner and Co-CEO, Guy Oseary. The site has pursued a rather star-studded content offering, with features centered on Ellen DeGeneres, Alanis Morissette and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The site also produces original animation features and "game" shows targeted to the college-age audience.

Sources say that Hollywood.com laid off 10 of its 14 employees remaining at its Santa Monica office this week. At the press time, though, Hollywood.com had not responded with an official statement. The company cut more than 40 staffers last September.

In other layoff news, Warner Bros.' site Entertaindom reportedly laid off 100 employees, and is being folded into the WB.com Web site as a result of streamlining stemming from the AOL Time Warner merger. AOL Time Warner announced layoffs totaling 2000 employees this week across many divisions, mainly effecting Warner Music Group and New Line Cinema.

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