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Intermind lays off 17 percent

The push technology company Intermind cuts 17 percent of its workforce to shift its focus to niche markets.

Push technology company Intermind has cut 17 percent of its workforce in shifting its focus to niche markets in an effort to avoid increased competition from Netscape Communications (NSCP) and Microsoft (MFST), company representatives told CNET NEWS.COM.

The layoffs, which began two weeks ago, took place in the company's marketing department and cut that group of about 30 workers in half, said Drummond Reed, vice president of product management and marketing. Before the layoffs, the company employed a total of 88 workers.

"The company is changing its focus and going to the next phase of our business plan. Channel communications is what we've developed over the last three years and what we were all about, but Microsoft's CDF standard and Netscape's Netcaster file format is both similar to our products," Reed said. "We found we don't need as many people in marketing because we're changing our product focus."

The company has shifted its strategy to the intranet and extranet markets, rather than trying to compete in the increasingly crowded consumer Internet market. Intermind will continue to promote Intermind Communicator, a helper application for browsers that allows users to tune into Web pages that are automatically transmitted to them by publishers.

The breathing room in the push technology market has become thin of late. Recently, IFusion filed for bankruptcy protection after failing to find a large audience for its products.

At the same time, the two leading browser companies, Netscape and Microsoft, are preparing to launch their competing initiatives in push technology, leading some analysts to warn of a shakeout among smaller players.

Intermind, founded in September 1995 and backed by cellular telephone mogul Craig McCaw, does not anticipate any more workforce reductions, marketing director Alane Moran said. She said the sales force is considered a big asset to the company, adding that the development department is still hiring people.

"We are not turning off the Internet space," she said. "The Internet product is continuing to thrive. People can download our product for free, that continues to be on autopilot. We're not turning anyone away."

This Friday, the company will begin beta testing of a new product, Dynamic Publisher for Domino, that will give enterprises a way to push Notes content through the intranet or Internet, according to Drummond.