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Women.com lays off 25 percent in cost-cutting move

The Web site featuring community bulletins, health tips, relationship advice and other services, lays off 85 employees to try to slash costs and turn a profit next year.

Women.com Networks laid off 85 employees Wednesday, or about 25 percent of its work force, as part of an effort to slash costs and turn a profit in 2001.

It is the latest in a string of layoffs and strategic reorganizations at niche Web sites, which are facing tough times as the broader e-commerce niche falls out of favor with investors and venture capitalists. Only a day before the Women.com announcement, Oxygen Media said it would lay off 65 employees and closed its Seattle office to reorganize.

Women.com executives could not immediately be reached for comment, but the San Mateo, Calif., company issued a statement on the job cuts--the first since the company was founded in 1992.

"The streamlining of our business operations, among the toughest decisions made by any company, reflects the need for Women.com to remain nimble in a fluctuating Internet industry," Marleen McDaniel, Women.com chief executive said in the statement. "We are very confident in the quality of our product, the future of our business, and we will focus our sales group on the company's core competitive advantage--large, established accounts."

Women.com publishes see A News.com webcast: Dot-coms: Down and out?200,000 Web pages of community bulletins, health tips, relationship advice, shopping sites and other services. The Hearst Corporation holds a 46 percent equity position in Women.com, and Disney owns nearly 3 percent of the company's outstanding shares.

Women.com laid off workers at the San Mateo, Calif., headquarters, as well as in New York and other regional offices throughout the United States. Wall Street is expecting the company to discuss 2001 revenue, operating expenses and earnings in a conference call later this month.