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After recent layoffs, Bizbuyer expands into U.K.

The e-commerce company quietly opens an office in London less than a month after laying off 20 percent of its staff in a belt-tightening measure.

Bizbuyer.com has quietly opened an office in London less than a month after laying off 20 percent of its staff in a belt-tightening measure.

Six months ago, investors told the e-commerce company to shore up resources to avoid an imminent industry shakeout this summer. The company, which lets small businesses request proposals from suppliers for products and services, laid off 30 people in its Santa Monica, Calif., headquarters in late May.

Chief executive Bernard Louvat said the layoffs were tied to the unveiling of a more automated version of Bizbuyer that requires less staff. The company currently employs 130 people.

Layoffs are sweeping the Internet industry as dot-coms look to cut costs amid waning investor interest and an arid stock market for Web companies. Reel.com, Salon.com and Corel are just a few companies that have let staff go in the last few weeks.

Bizbuyer's investor list reads like the Who's Who of Silicon Valley. Backers include eBay chief executive Meg Whitman, CMGI's @Ventures, Intel and eCompanies Venture Group, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Ventures, Staples.com, Redpoint Ventures, and TMCT Ventures--the recently formed venture fund by Times Mirror and Chandler Trust.

The privately held company has raised nearly $68 million and has $54 million in the bank, enough to last for the next 24 months, Louvat said.

By entering the European market, Louvat said he believes the company will stem future competition in its industry.

"We've started getting copied abroad; this is a decision to be there early enough and establish our brand so we become one of the leaders in the space," he said.

Whitman and @Ventures' Peter Mills sit on Bizbuyer's board of directors. The company has partnerships with Staples.com, Qwest Communications and PSINet, among others.