RealTime IT News

Work.com to Cease Operations in March

Citing a decline in online advertising and slow market development, portal Work.com will close up shop March 31, Chairman and CEO Donald P. Hutchison has announced.

Most of the 113-member workforce, based in Redwood City, Calif., and New York City, will leave the building for good this week. Others will stick around to close out deals with vendors and partners.

Work.com is a business resource portal launched last year with investments from Dow Jones & Co. and Excite@Home.

While the portal accrued more than a million visitors, the company said in a statement that the market for such a service did not develop as quickly as anticipated. In fact, Work.com's predicament is similar to other firms that offer consulting services and Internet business advice, such as Modem Media and Razorfish.

"The current decline in online advertising spending, the challenges of securing further funding, and an accelerated focus on profitability for the venture necessitated this decision," said Mark C. Stevens, executive vice-president, corporate and business development, of Excite@Home and a Work.com director.

Work.com launched in late February 2000 and combined content from Dow Jones's dowjones.com portal with Excite's existing online service for small businesses, also called Work.com.

The closing of Work.com is an indication of the shaky positions some media conglomerates are finding their portals in, as most analysts say consumers won't stick regularly to just one portal. In January, Walt Disney said it would discontinue operations of its Go.com Web portal and lay off 400 employees.

The company said it will focus on the individual Web sites instead of growing the Go.com umbrella site, including Disney.com, ESPN.com, ABC.com, ABCNews.com, Movies.com, Mr. Showbiz, NFL.com and Family.com.

Despite this promise, Walt Disney's Internet Group was dealt what could potentially be a hard blow last week when it was reported that the National Football League spurned an offer to continue having its NFL.com site produced by ESPN.com. That revised offer was worth a reported five-year, $250 million deal.

Though ESPN.com officials refused to confirm or deny the report, SportsLine.com said it would definitely be interested in producing NFL.com if the professional football league opted to look elsewhere.