Britannica.com lays off one-third of staff

Britannica.com Inc. confirmed Tuesday that it has laid off 68 people out of a staff of 219. It also said that it would focus on getting people to pay for its consumer and education sites because of the decline in advertising revenues.

"There was a time not along ago when most observers believed that Internet services had to be supported mainly through advertising," said Don Yannias, CEO of Britannica.com in a statement. "We are out there in the marketplace, however, and we're convinced that a diversified business model combining free and subscription-supported products is the road to success."

The Chicago-based firm said it would intensify marketing efforts for its paid service BritannicaSchool.com, a Web site for schoolchildren that will launch this summer.

The money-losing company said it hopes to turn a profit in 2002.

Britannica.com is the Internet arm of Encyclopaedia Britannica, publisher of the print encyclopedia. In February 2001, Britannica.com shut its San Francisco office and laid off nine employees. The company had laid off a total of 90 people in November and December 2000. The new layoffs will occur from this week through June.

Britannica Online launched in 1994. It was the first encyclopedia on the Internet and one of the first information services to be supported by subscriptions and site licenses.

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