The San Francisco-based company informed its partners of its financial difficulties last week, explaining that it had not been able to secure additional funding. Its Web site was still operational Thursday.
An executive at a Headlight partner company said that Headlight co-founder Scott Mitic told her last week that Headlight is laying off its entire staff and would be filing for bankruptcy by next week. The executive, who asked to remain anonymous, said her company prepaid Headlight to train all of its 700 consultants.
"We're painfully aware" that Headlight is going out of business, she said. "It's too bad; they had a great system."
Headlight executives declined to comment. However, an outgoing voice mail message for a senior executive said the company ceased operations March 14.
"We apologize for any inconvenience," said the message from the senior director of business development. "We all appreciate serving you."
Andreas Stavropoulos, a director at Draper Fisher Jurvetson, which backed Headlight, acknowledged Headlight's financial problems, saying that a deal to keep the company operating fell through recently, but he declined to give details. Saying that bankruptcy is "not in the cards as far as I'm concerned," Stavropolous said Headlight and DFJ are considering deals in which Headlight would be acquired.
"Don't count them out just yet," he said.
One of Headlight's largest customers was Autodesk, which makes computer-aided design software. Representatives there didn't return calls Thursday.
Despite current investor enthusiasm in the e-learning sector, the dot-com downturn has hit several online education companies in recent weeks. This week, LearnCom agreed to buy some of the assets of TrainSeek.com. Earlier this month, San Jose, Calif.-based Masters Institute, which offered vocational classes online, shut down.
Dana Chaney, a human relations generalist at Concord, N.C.-based CT Communications, said Mitic contacted her Friday to let her know that the company was going out of business. Last month, Headlight announced that it would be providing online training services to CT Communications' supervisors.
Chaney, who helped organize the program at CT Communications, said Mitic told her that the company would file for bankruptcy or be acquired within the next several months. Headlight has already laid off all of its staff, Mitic told Chaney.
Although CT Communications supervisors can still access their classes on Headlight, the company is already looking at other options for its training courses, Chaney said.
"This was working. We were hoping (to) get through the year with it," Chaney said. Headlight's closure "really stinks."