AltaVista cuts jobs, drops media business

In an effort to move into the black, Web portal AltaVista Co. slashed 25 per cent or 225 people from its workforce of 900 employees last Friday.

The company, which is owned by CMGI Inc., will also leave the Internet media portal business, refocusing its efforts into its search engine operations, AltaVista said in a statement. Its competitors include Yahoo Inc.’s Google and Walt Disney Co.’s

AltaVista will consolidate its operations in California into its Palo Alto headquarters, the company said. With the layoffs and the restructuring, AltaVista said its North American operations would be profitable by Jan. 31, 2001.

“While many of these business decisions have been difficult, we are now in a position to unleash our search expertise with a clear, singular focus to penetrate every layer of the search market for both consumers and businesses,” Rod Schrock, AltaVista president and CEO, said in the statement.

As part of its restructuring, AltaVista will launch new investments including a third-generation search service that incorporates users’ information and an information-marketing services organization that will offer services, such as data mining, to content providers. It expects to expand its global presence from seven countries to more than 35 by the end of this fiscal year, AltaVista said.

The Web portal company has financial problems in spite of major financial backing from CMGI, which bought AltaVista from Compaq Computer Corp. for $2.3 billion last year. CMGI, an Andover, Mass.-based Internet investment and management company, planned an initial public offering for AltaVista earlier this year, but postponed it when the Internet market softened.