Their Florida-based headquarters abruptly replaced the glitzy show-biz destination with a redesigned site. And by Tuesday morning, the "Hollywood" in Hollywood.com was virtually extinct--about 35 out of 50 staffers, including editorial and technology employees, were fired.
In what's turning out to be a bloody month for entertainment dot-coms, Hollywood.com Inc. joined the massacre Tuesday by consolidating its workforce and moving much of its celeb-oriented operations from Los Angeles to, um, Boca Raton, Florida. (No word yet on whether Hollywood.com will be forced to change its name to HollywoodFlorida.com).
Sources tell E! Online that only a skeleton crew of about 12-15 employees, including a handful of editors and writers, will remain in Los Angeles, overseeing a scaled-down menu of original content.
Chairman and CEO Mitch Rubenstein said in a statement that the site would keep a news bureau in Santa Monica. Before the layoffs, Hollywood.com's Santa Monica office was comprised of less than 20 percent of the company's total staff.
"In addition, we believe it makes both strategic and financial sense to consolidate our operations into our studio and corporate headquarters," he said.
The decision, as well as the existence of the shadow site in Florida, shocked employees, who had been working on their own redesigns at the site, and over the past year had built a steady stream of traffic from movie buffs and entertainment-news junkies. The layoffs also came soon after former Hollywood.com cofounder Steven Katinsky sued the company, claiming he was cheated out of stock and other financial perks when former owner Times Mirror sold the site to Big Entertainment. (The company, now known as Hollywood.com Inc., has been based in Florida since it purchased the site from Times Mirror last year. Hollywood.com Inc. also owns Broadway.com, Musicsite.com and MovieTickets.com.)
Nearly two weeks prior to Monday night's site switcheroo, employees were reportedly told that a special meeting was scheduled for Tuesday morning to introduce staffers to one of the company's new execs.
Instead, they were fired, and Hollywood.com now joins a long list of content-oriented sites that have slashed their staffs and tightened their belts. Another entertainment destination, the attitude-spewing Gen-Y site iFuse, announced this week it was laying off 20 percent of its staff as it prepared to shift its focus and acquire College Broadcast, a cable company aimed at college students.
The carnage continues. In addition to recent busts at Pop.com and Pseudo.com, layoffs continued at such sites as Shockwave.com, Scour, iCast and Web animation company Stan Lee Media, where 19 employees were cut from the production division.
(UPDATED at 10:00 a.m. PT on 9/27/00)