Spot Runner Lays Off 115, Will Exit Local Search Biz

In the face of a rotten economy and weakening demand for advertising, SpotRunner is dismissing 115 people and may pursue a sale of Weblistic, the search marketing, SEO, and directory management platform it acquired earlier this year.

With the layoffs, which Spot Runner says it will complete today, the cross-platform ad seller reduces its headcount by 30 percent.

It also takes a big step back from its apparent mission to set up a full-service marketing offering. Known best for its national and local video ad selling services for the Web and television, Spot Runner has lately added other revenue streams related to digital and video, including the Weblistic buy and video ad production services through its acquisition of GlobeShooter.

“Given our strong traction in video, local search is going to become less of a priority in our business,” CEO Nick Grouf told ClickZ News this afternoon. “We’re going to explore strategic opportunities as far as that business is concerned.”

That could indicate the company is interested in a sale, but Grouf said Spot Runner is open to a range of outcomes. “We’re going to see how this plays out over the next several months,” he continued.

Spot Runner originally acquired Weblistic in March, and with it picked up local search, directory marketing, and lead generation technology built by the developers behind the YellowPages.com platform.

Under the restructuring, SpotRunner’s local search and directories offering will be consolidated in Los Angeles. Grouf said the rest of the company’s structure — including its local and national sales operations — will remain intact.

“When times get difficult, as next year is going to be for the broader economy, focus is more important,” said Grouf. “The good news for us is we feel very bullish about our business. We’re well-positioned strategically.”

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