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iVillage Struggles With Revolving Door

The past year at iVillage.com has been hectic to say the least.

In its finest year since its inception in 1995, the women's media network sounded its trumpet by going public. The New Yorker published a stylish feature about its content and the personalities behind it. The hysteria over iVillage.com (IVIL) reached its zenith when it was featured on "60 Minutes" a couple months ago.

So where do the people go from there? Out the ever-swiftly revolving door apparently. Though the company has been praised for its bold, popular content, many employees have been leaving to what they hope will be greener pastures. Last week, the online women's network reported a first-quarter loss. Despite reporting a surge in revenues, iVillage said it lost $25.2 million, or 85 cents per share, in the first quarter, compared with $17.6 million, or 96 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Around the same time the financial statistics were disclosed, Chief Financial Officer Craig Monaghan resigned, the second top executive to leave in over the course of a week. The firm's chief operating officer, Allison Abraham, announced her impending flight the previous week. In the same week, the c ompany highered a new executive -- Michele Anderson -- as senior vice president of strategic development to complete the revolving door cycle.

In a phenomenon that mirrors the lightning-strike expansion of the Net, Net industry pundits have noted the innovators behind "first generation" Net firms are departing to either set up a new shop or try their honed skills at new digs.

Former Netscape prodigy Marc Andreessen is an example of the first reason. He left the firm last year to form product and service start-up Loudcloud. Top-level talent from a dozen or so established dot-coms followed him. For her part, Abraham joined a company that was already public in LifeMinders.com (LFMN) and one that she hopes to help take off.

These are just two examples of what "second generation" dot-coms are all about. For these people, it's time to kiss off America Online Inc. (AOL), Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO), and even iVillage. It's time to embrace their new families. In fact, at some level it seems that every company in America today has been affected by the exodus of talent to jobs that often pay less, require longer hours and, maybe, provide vast riches.

"I am going to miss the people here at iVillage.com," Abraham said in a recent interview. "Candice [Carpenter, iVillage.com president] and I just cried together [about Abraham's departure].

On the matter of resignations, what is the "something" about iVillage that intimidates, and at times, aggravates former and current employees? Abraham, speaking for the executive level, said the firm is, indeed, "brutally honest."

As a jaunt to the corporate insider site Vault.com will testify, former and present workers are rife with anger and frustration over the working environment that seems to have settled over the firm like an ominous storm cloud.

Not all of the comments are negative, however. Some of them come to the defense of the firm. Abraham summed up the way things work at the company.

"You have to deliver what you say you are going to deliver," Abraham said. "We move at a faster pace here. We had people come here with years of experience