New CEO, Fewer Employees at Alta Vista

Suffering from a decline in both visitors and advertisers, CMGI Inc.’s struggling search operation Alta Vista named a new CEO and cut another 160 employees, bringing the staff count down to about 340 people.

The company’s comparison shopping service also is being jettisoned.

The new boss is James Barnett, the former president of MyFamily.com Inc., a network aimed at connecting families and generations on the Web. Before that he had been president and CEO of Infogrames North America, a video game software publisher, and chairman, president and CEO of Accolade, the entertainment software maker.

Barnett will be the first CEO at the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company since Rod Schrock stepped down about a year ago.

AltaVistaAltaVista, which had made an abortive effort to become an Internet portal along the lines of Yahoo, said it will “transform its U.S. shopping-comparison service to search functionality on the AltaVista.com site, as well as consolidate and centralize general administrative and finance functions.” In addition to the layoffs, the company will close its office in Irvine, Calif. The company abandoned its free ISP model late last year.

“We were lean before, but not lean enough,” Barnett told Reuters, adding that AltaVista may rely on CMGI for some administrative support.

In addition to offering search capabilities to consumers around the globe in 25 languages, AltaVista recently launched its Enterprise Search Architecture software applications that can index and categorize corporate data — structured and unstructured — in 30 languages across more than 225 file formats.

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