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Dot-com Cutbacks

BY Admin  June 8, 2000 at 12:00 PM EDT

Salon.com today announced it was laying off nearly 10 percent of its 140 staffers, and cutting its budget by 20 percent.

The online magazine’s CEO Michael O’Donnell told the Associated Press Wednesday the cuts would give the company a few extra months before it will be forced to ask investors for more money.

The move was an effort to make up for a $7 million shortfall in its $35 million budget.

“Our feeling was, we’d like to be around a year from now, so we thought we’d take these steps now, however difficult,” O’Donnell said. “You need to make sure that you’ll live another day.”

O’Donnell said the cutbacks would probably lead to a 25 percent reduction in the amount of original material produced on the site.

Salon is only the latest Internet news site hit by hard times. The award-winning criminal justice site APBNews.com folded its tent completely earlier this week, firing all 140 employees.

Some staff members, including Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and former New York Times columnist Sydney Shanberg and veterans of The Washington Post, ABC News, the Associated Press and United Press International, have decided to remain at their posts voluntarily until the site works out its financial troubles.

But company spokesman Joe Krakoviak said Monday APBNews.com is not yet planning to file for bankruptcy.

“We continue to believe that we have such a good product that the investors will come on board this week,” he said.

According to the New York Observer, APBNews.com had amassed $7 million in debts and had only $50,000 in the bank. The site’s Chief Operating Officer Mark Sauter told the Observer those figures weren’t too far off the mark.

“I don’t know if that’s true but it’s certainly within an order of magnitude,” Sauter said. “Let’s put it this way, I haven’t checked in the last two hours, but we’re out of money.”

The latest spate of Internet cutbacks isn’t limited to Web-only publications. CBS’s Web site laid off 24 employees — nearly a quarter of its Internet staff — last week.

CBS was recently acquired by Viacom, owner of MTV and other ventures. In an internal memo quoted by the Associated Press, employees were told internal restructuring was a factor in the staff changes.

“As with all transitions,” the memo said, “there comes a time when an organization must endure a certain amount of upheaval.”