Zefer Closes Boston HQ

Count another casualty in the Internet consulting sector. Boston-based Zefer Corp., which drew more than $100 million in venture capital during the dot-com expansion, has reportedly shut down its Boston operations and fired about 300 employees. The Boston Globe reports that the company has also sold some of its assets to NEC Corp., the Japanese computer company.

Officials at Zefer could not be reached for additional comment. But the Globe reports that NEC, a $48 billion computer giant, has offered jobs to about 180 Zefer employees and said NEC was to assume Zefer’s client list and other assets.

Laid-off employees reportedly received no severance or health benefits.

Back in March, NEC led a $48 million investment in Zefer. The funding included a plan that had NEC partnering with Zefer on research projects on emerging technologies, especially wireless projects. The companies were also to develop joint sales and marketing campaigns.

Zefer was founded in 1998 and in 1999 it zipped up $100 million in venture capital funding from the Chicago venture firm GTCR Golder Rauner. Zefer ramped up operations by hiring hundreds of consultants and opened several offices (Chicago, New York, Pittsburg, San Francisco, London) to serve the exploding number of dot-coms and businesses looking to jump onto the Web.

The downturn in the Net economy took a toll on Zefer, as it did to every other consultancy. It twice called off a planned initial public offering late last year in light of the bear market for tech stocks. The company then went into retrenchment mode, laying off hundreds of its 800 employees in several rounds this year and in a bid to slash costs.

The company also endured changes in leadership. In April, co-founder Anthony Tjan left his positions as executive vice president and director. In July, CEO Bill Seibel also resigned.

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