Once Heartily Jeered Luminant to Sell All Assets

Newly-bankrupt Luminant Worldwide Corp. — the high-tech consulting firm held up for mockery by a writer who posed as a junior project manager at the company’s New York City office and scribed a piece about his adventure for The New Yorker magazine — agreed to sell its assets to rival Lante Corp. Monday.

Houston-based Luminant, or what’s left of it from restructuring and last week’s filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, will receive about $3 million for its client relationships and contracts, intellectual property and software from Chicago’s Lante.

In what is perhaps a bit of understatement, Luminant Chief Executive Officer Jim Corey said the high-tech consulting market “has been extremely difficult this year” and noted that business for such services slowed to a crawl after September 11th.

“This event, coupled with our thin cash position and heavy debt load made this asset sale the most prudent step for our creditors, clients, alliance partners and employees,” Corey said.

Rudy Puryear, Lante’s president and CEO, said the deal fits his outfit’s business partner integration strategy, something that has been rampant in online consulting circles nationwide. Note, the recent cases of consulting stalwarts Organic, Agency.c om and iXL, which merged with Scient.

In a public statement, Lante said it will extend employment offers to Luminant personnel who are necessary to serve clients. The agreement is subject to court approval and closing is expected to occur in early 2002.

One year ago last week, Luminant drew jeers from hecklers after a story written by one Rodney Rothman, a former head writer of “Late Show With David Letterman”, pegged the firm as a typical high-flying dot-com, replete with on-site massages, yoga and various other perks prevalent in New Economy businesses. Unfortunately for both Luminant and the high-brow literary magazine it appeared in, The New Yorker the story, while it detailed true occurrences and situations over a 17-day period, was rooted in deception; Rothman was not an employee of the firm, although he posed as a junior project manager.

In a company-wide email later posted to a message board on thevault.com, Jim Corey, chief executive officer of Luminant, wrote: “The author of the story was clearly deceptive in posing as an employee, and worked to gain access to the building by following persons with key cards and providing vague and false information to employees. We will be seeking the advice of our legal counsel on how, if at all, we should respond to this incident. If it turns out that the company was Luminant, I’d like to know if he took anything from our offices, interfered with our work in any way or harassed any of our employees.”

The whole fiasco left both Luminant and The New Yorker, which were ridiculed for lax security and fact-checking, respectively, with egg on their faces.

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