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Autobytel cuts 35 percent of workforce, looks at possible sale

Online auto-marketer is making steep job cuts and hiring an investment bank to explore options such as a potential sale of the company.

Autobytel is reducing its workforce by 35 percent and exploring a potential sale.

The online auto-marketer said Friday it has cut 75 positions and has hired RBC Capital Markets to explore strategic alternatives.

The company, which offers marketing services such as listing new and used cars for sale from dealers and manufacturers, has been struggling to reduce its cost structure and beef up revenue. Last year, Autobytel began a companywide cost-cutting program.

"While it is never easy to make a change of this magnitude, we believe our actions are necessary to bring the company more closely in line with our goals of reaching cash flow breakeven and achieving profitability," Jim Riesenbach, Autobytel's CEO, said in a statement.

Autobytel was up 6 percent in early morning trading to $1.06 a share.

Despite the recent turn of events, Autobytel has been one of the few online auto players to survive the dot-com meltdown at the start of the decade. In 2001, for example, the company acquired its former rival Autoweb for $15.6 million.

But advertising revenue has been dropping off. In the second quarter, the company reported revenue of about $19 million, down from $21.6 million a year ago.