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Former PricewaterhouseCoopers exec joins Web consultancy

Struggling Web consultancy iXL Enterprises taps an executive from the traditional consulting firm as its new president and chief executive.

Struggling Web consultancy iXL Enterprises has tapped an executive from traditional consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers as its new president and chief executive.

Christopher Formant, who most recently led PwC's global banking consulting practice, will join iXL on Feb. 1, taking the spot currently held by iXL founder Bert Ellis, the company announced Thursday.

Ellis will remain board chairman, focusing on business developments for the company as well as managing the iXL Ventures portfolio.

Formant, a veteran in the consulting arena, is expected to focus on building the company into a competitor that combines New Economy talent and culture with Old Economy knowledge and expertise handling traditional system implementations.

"iXL is a much more focused company," Ellis said in a statement. "I believe we now have the resources and leadership in place to become profitable again in early 2001, as we said we would."

Formant, 49, will also sit on iXL's board.

Many companies in iXL's sector have been badly bruised by an overall market shift and turbulent market conditions that have affected a flock of technology players, old and new. In recent months, iXL has cut about 35 percent of its work force and shut down several offices.

Formant's hiring dovetails with a general iXL reorganization announced last November, after it cut about 350 jobs, and the company warned that third-quarter earnings would be weaker than expected. Then-President William Nussey left shortly before the earnings warning.

Profit warnings, layoffs and restructuring efforts announced from several players including Scient, Viant, Razorfish and others have wreaked havoc on the entire industry. Most companies are aiming to nab more lucrative consulting engagements from Fortune 500 client types that have more money to spend on their services, following a tough transition away from typical dot-com clients.

During its fourth quarter, iXL said it completed its financial and organizational restructuring, cut expenses by half, spun off or closed several offices, and began focusing its business on clients in more lucrative areas such as financial services, retail and travel.

iXL said it ended 2000 with a cash balance of approximately $50 million.