Leapnet Claims In-House Web Shops Caused Staff Changes

There was a time when hulky brick-and-mortars needed a certified e-consultant to give them “click-and mortar” credentials. Not any longer, says Chicago-based Leapnet, Inc.

Leapnet claims that many firms now do Web work in-house, rather than outsourcing it to Internet consultants — such as itself. In response to the new trend, it let go about 60 employees, or 13 percent this week. The cuts were across-the-board, and the dismissed employees will receive severance packages and employment assistance.

In November 2000, the company let go about 10 percent of its staff, about 45 employees, as a result of its May 2000 acquisition of SPR Inc., an information technology services provider.

“Today’s market has shifted to one in which more Internet-oriented work is being done in-house and outsourced projects are being broken into smaller pieces,” company management said in a memo to employees. “As we reviewed our January and February utilization reports, it became clear that our current number of employees and mix of skill sets do not match market demand.”

The market for Internet consultants seems to be somewhat of a chameleon. Only last month, Leapnet’s CEO touted its blue chip clients and announced new work in a board industry range, including healthcare, travel and transportation, global communications, technology, financial services, and retail industries — with companies such as Amadeus, Hitachi America, Ltd., IBM/Macromedia, The Northern Trust Corporation, and Sears, Roebuck and Co., according to a news release.

Leapnet also just announced its “Best of Show” honor at the 2001 South-by-Southwest Interactive Festival Website Competition, for its Xhibition Transition Web site project.

The firm, however, remains optimistic about the changes.

“We have implemented our unified business plan and put in place the dynamic senior management team we need to navigate us through the inevitable marketplace and narrow technology shifts,” Leapnet Chairman and CEO Robert M. Figliulo said. “Therefore, we are focused as a company, our pipeline is strong, and we are well-positioned for the future.”

Randy Scasny is managing editor of chicago.internet.com.

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