NetGuide Live has been given 90 days to get its act together or CMP will do away with it, one laid-off staff member said. Yesterday's layoffs came less than a month after 19 other staff members were let go, leaving a far smaller crew to publish the same site as 200 staffers and free-lancers once did.
A spokesman at CMP's New York headquarters declined to comment.
But project director Robert Seidman, while declining to comment on the layoffs, said NetGuide Live "is definitely alive. There's definitely a commitment to carry forward with the site."
Sources said the layoffs came down to a simple matter of the bottom line. While few Web businesses are making money, CMP is a profit-driven company that expects returns after a year of operation. NetGuide was not showing any.
Literature on CMP's Web site about the company states: "By predicting change and moving quickly to capitalize on it, CMP has been able to achieve continuous growth averaging more than 20 percent per year, while maintaining its independence as a privately held company."
Sources say NetGuide's problems stem from a lack of direction and leadership. NetGuide started with ambitions of both reviewing sites and of becoming the TV Guide of the Net, listing live events.
Doing both, however, seemed too ambitious.
"They over-expanded," one source said. "They hired too many people. NetGuide Live didn't have a clear vision. Were we a search engine or a TV Guide to the Net? They tried to be everything."
Some departments are now operating with only one person, including "What's on Now" and the copy desk.
"Everyone who is left is disillusioned," one staffer said. "Everyone's got their resumes out."