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Nets closes AT&T news site

Hoping to bring its business into sharper focus, Nets Incorporated will pull the plug on AT&T Business Network.

Hoping to bring its business into sharper focus, Nets Incorporated will pull the plug on AT&T Business Network, a news and information service Web site.

According to Nets executives, the company is getting rid of AT&T Business Network because the service didn't fit well with its overall business.

In an email to employees sent Friday, Nets CEO Jim Manzi, the former head of Lotus Development, said the company had laid off 54 employees and will phase out the service in the coming months.

"This action isn't solely about reducing expenses," Manzi wrote in the email. "It is about aligning our resources with the strategy. It also is about establishing an organization that can execute at Internet speed."

Nets was formed last June as the result of a merger between Industry.Net and AT&T New Media Service. The company's primary business is selling manufacturing equipment and parts to customers over the Internet.

"For the past several months, as we've merged the AT&T New Media Services and Industry.net organizations, as we've re-examined and redefined our business strategy, and as we've more fully defined our commerce architecture, we have been hindered by too much focus on what the business was, versus where the business needs to go," Manzi said in his email.

The chief executive became head of Nets after joining Industry.Net early in January 1996. Before that, Manzi was CEO of Lotus, leaving that company shortly after IBM acquired it.

The decision to kill AT&T Business Network closes the book on the service's unsteady life. After acquiring AT&T Business Network from Ziff-Davis Publishing in 1994, AT&T decided in January 1996 to dump the proprietary network, called Interchange, upon which the service was based and move it to the Web.