Dash.com Joins Ranks of E-Marketers Slimming Down

Online marketing firm Dash.com Wednesday confirmed reports that it has slimmed down its staff to the “low 20’s,” amid widespread consolidation in the space.

Sources close to the firm, which delivers online coupons and discounts to customers, said that Dash has reduced its staff by a total of 100 during various rounds of layoffs in recent months, with its most recent round of reductions occurring on Friday.

According to those sources, the firm also is considering liquidating some of its assets to fund itself until it can secure additional venture capital.

Dan Kaufman, chief executive at the New York-based firm, confirmed that the company has been undertaking staff reductions since December, when the firm had about 60 employees. Kaufman wouldn’t say whether it had cut back before that time, as sources close to the firm had indicated.

Aside from confirming that Dash.com now has a staff of about 20, Kaufman declined to go into specific details about the recent cuts, or how the restructuring might affect Dash.com’s business.

The company’s chief product, the Dashbar, is a window that appears at the bottom of a Web browser. As a user surfs, discount opportunities pop up from Dash affiliates — for instance, when the surfer visits the site of a competitor to a Dash client, a popup offers a discount from the client. Or when a user visits a search engine, a discount from a Dash.com client appears for based on the search term.

Partner merchants include art.com, jcrew.com, barnesandnoble.com, Dell, and others.

Based on the strength of that business proposition, the company netted about $50 million in venture capital from investors including Omnicom Group, AT&T Ventures, JP Morgan Investment Corporation, and several others.

Kaufman declined to comment on the firm’s future plans.

Two-year-old Dash.com isn’t alone in slimming down to survive the much-publicized downturn in online marketing spending.

Recent months have seen the elimination of 120 positions at MyPoints.com, in addition to the departure of the San Francisco-based firm’s CEO and chief operating officer.
The company also issued an earnings warning in January.

Chicago-based online couponer Coolsavings.com also had disappointing news recently. Last week, spokespeople from the firm said that it would trim 10 percent of its staff in an effort to cut costs. Coolsavings reduced guidance for the fourth quarter as well.

Both companies cited current market conditions for their actions.

On Tuesday, another player — online incentive marketer Netcentives — posted widening quarterly losses, despite increased revenue. While Netcentives has not announced layoffs, the San Francisco firm did say it anticipated coming quarters of industry-wide instability.

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