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Amazon-backed car site sheds a quarter of its staff

Greenlight, an online car-sales site backed by Amazon.com, lays off about 25 percent of its work force to slow the company's growth and cut costs.

Greenlight, an online car-sales site backed by Amazon.com, has laid off about 25 percent of its staff.

The Livermore, Calif.-based company made the job cuts in an effort to slash expenses, said company spokeswoman Alison Wagonfeld. The layoffs came across the board at the company, said Wagonfeld, who would not say how many people were let go.

Noting that Greenlight's business doubled in the last 90 days, Wagonfeld said the cuts had more to do with the bear market for Internet stocks than with any internal problems at Greenlight.

"We're aligning our cost structure with the overall market," she said. "Like most other companies in this space, we need to make sure that our cost structure and burn rate is one that can be supported in this market and funding environment."

Greenlight is only the latest in a long line of Internet companies that have laid off staff or closed their doors this year. Monday, KnightRidder.com laid off 16 percent of its staff. Friday, Etown.com laid off 22 percent of its employees.

The layoffs come as the online automobile industry has struggled. Earlier this month, Maryann Keller resigned as head of Priceline.com's automotive services business. And in August, Trilogy Software shut down new car sales at its CarOrder.com Web site.

Greenlight notified affected employees of the layoffs on Friday and gave them each a severance package, Wagonfeld said. "No executives were affected by the job cuts," she said.

Greenlight, which works with car dealers in markets around the United States, has been aggressively moving into new regional markets. When the site launched in January, Greenlight sold cars in only five markets. It now sells in 140 markets nationwide.

With the layoffs, Greenlight joins a growing list of struggling companies affiliated with Seattle-based Amazon. Earlier this year, Amazon investees Pets.com, Living.com, Webvan, Kozmo and Gear.com all announced layoffs. Pets.com and Living.com have also closed their Web sites.

Amazon announced earlier this year that it took a 5 percent stake in the online automobile company and in August began to sell new cars on its site through its relationship with Greenlight.

The job cuts will not affect Greenlight's presence on, or relationship with, Amazon, said both Wagonfeld and Amazon spokesman Bill Curry.