Viant Slashes 125 Jobs, Closes Dallas Office

To cut costs and lessen its dependence on dot-com clients, Viant will lay off 125 employees, about 17 percent of its workforce, and close its Dallas office.

The Boston Internet consulting firm will take a charge of between $5 million and $7 million against fourth-quarter earnings to pay for severance packages. The moves should save Viant about $18 million in 2001. The company will finish the year with $185 million in cash.

About 50 jobs will be lost in Dallas. The remainder of cuts will be spread throughout Viant’s other offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and the Silicon Valley. About 100 of the workers were billable consultants.

“We worked to forestall this restructuring,” said Anna Svaldi, a Viant spokeswoman. “We had an action plan to cut costs and accelerate business developement. It was working but it wasn’t enough to offset the downturn in the economy.”

Viant’s struggles began when it badly missed third-quarter estimates. Viant chief Bob Gett, blamed the shortfall on dot-com company delaying decisions, the downturn in funding for some firms, and a lagging sales and marketing effort.

Burned by its Internet-heavy client list, Viant will focus its services on the following industries: media and entertainment; financial services, energy, consumer goods/retail and technology.

The layoffs are the latest by a Boston-area company. Yesterday HarvardNet, a Medford, Mass., company said it was getting out of the digital subsriber line business and cut 280 jobs. And on Friday, five Internet companies pink-slipped a total of 200 workers.

Shares of Viant slumped .312, or 7 percent, in midday trading. In the last 52 weeks, the stock has been as high as 63.5 and as low as 3.75.

Colin C. Haley is managing editor at boston.internet.com.

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