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Motley Fool cuts staff, folds Soapbox

The finance news site lays off about 30 percent of its staff, becoming the latest online publisher to recoil amid cost pressures.

The Motley Fool laid off about 30 percent of its staff Thursday, becoming the latest online publisher to recoil amid cost pressures.

The company, which is known for its personal finance news and irreverent commentary in print and online, dismissed 115 employees from a staff of 355 in its U.S. and U.K. offices, according to a statement. The company also plans to discontinue online marketplace Soapbox.com, which was launched only six months ago.

"By streamlining our organization and focusing our resources on products and services that our customers value most, we will ensure that the Fool continues to fulfill its unique role as the 'trusted advisor' for the 30 million people we reach monthly both online and offline," Chief Executive Pat Garner said.

The company's cutbacks follow similar moves at rival publications. Financial news service TheStreet.com eliminated about 100 jobs in November when it shut down its U.K. operations and ended a joint venture with The New York Times.

More broadly, online publishers such as the New York Times Digital and KnightRidder.com have also reduced staff in efforts to contain losses and shave costs. Many such publishers have been forced to cut back because of waning enthusiasm for online advertising--their chief source of revenue.

The Motley Fool, a privately held company, raised $30 million in January from investors that included Softbank, AOL Time Warner Ventures and Mayfield Fund. In May 2000, the company snared Coca-Cola executive Patrick Garner as its first chief executive after a 10-month search.

Tom and David Gardner founded the Alexandria, Va.-based company in 1993, and it quickly debuted on America Online a year later, after winning its financial backing. The company publishes investment advice books as well as a syndicated personal finance column.

The company's statement said that terminated staff will receive a one-month severance package.