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More layoffs at NetGuide Live

The Web site's future is left unclear after new layoffs pare back the staff to a skeleton crew of employees.

NetGuide Live's future was left unclear after layoffs today pared back the staff to a skeleton crew of employees.

The struggling Web site, owned by CMP Media, has gone through two previous rounds of layoffs in which the NetGuide Live staff dwindled from 200 to about 50 employees. Today, CMP told NetGuide Live employees that 22 more staffers would be losing their jobs.

"Efficiencies resulting from the integration of the company's existing Web products will result in the elimination of 22 editorial and technology positions at NetGuide Live on the West Coast," the company said in a statement. "As always, CMP will try to provide alternate positions where possible."

CMP apparently is not shutting down the site completely. According to an employee who attended a meeting this morning with NetGuide Live publisher Beth Haggerty, it will be merged into a new site to be called CMP Net and moved to New York from its San Francisco headquarters. Robert Seidman will remain in charge of the editorial side of NetGuide Live.

CMP originally had high hopes for NetGuide Live, promoting it as a Web equivalent of TV Guide that would let users pinpoint chats, audio broadcasts, and other events happening around the Internet. Initially, the company partnered with Oracle to use a sophisticated searching technology from the database giant. NetGuide Live was also supposed to provide users with a Java-based navigational control that would help guide users from event to event.

But CMP never fully realized its technological ambitions for the site, and it failed to attract a broad audience. CMP is still investing heavily in online publishing through its TechWeb site, which provides technology news and links to the cyberspace editions of CMP's print magazines. CMP publishes a print magazine called NetGuide and a corresponding Web site that is distinct from NetGuide Live.

NetGuide today announced Michael Neubarth joined NetGuide as editor in chief, replacing Tony Rizzo who will become a CMP consultant. Neubarth joins NetGuide from Internet World magazine, where he also served as editor in chief.

Today, one employee was bitter about the layoffs. She said that some employees had received only one week's severance pay after being laid off and that the publishers had shut down all of NetGuide Live's email system, internal file servers, and printers for security reasons.

"They're really screwing us," she said.