Excite@Home trims staff and Web site

Excite@Home will lay off one-quarter of its workers, drop several online services and shut down a subsidiary as the company attempts to cut expenses during trying times, officials said Tuesday.

The company serves about 3.2 million broadband subscribers but has been punished by lagging advertising revenue. Rumors have circulated that Excite@Home may imminently declare bankruptcy, but officials claim any bankruptcy talk is speculation. AT&T Corp. maintains a 23 percent stake in the company.

Excite@Home will reduce its workforce by 25 percent -- about 500 employees -- over the next three months. These moves follow on previous announcements by the company to reduce its emphasis on online media and low-bandwidth Internet access, according to Stephanie Xavier, a company spokeswoman.

"We are continuing to focus on our core broadband access business." Xavier said. "We have made some changes to our media assets, which is something we said previously that we would."

Changes to the company's media ties include the cancelation of many co-branded consumer-oriented shopping sites and game sites. Excite@Home would previously direct users to a site shared by itself and a retail partner but will now push all users to partners' Web sites. This process will happen over the next few weeks.

"There was a lot of expense in maintaining those sites," Xavier said.

The company will not change its e-mail, instant messaging, news, search engine and other central features.

Excite@home will also close its MatchLogic subsidiary, in Westminster, Colorado. MatchLogic provided interactive marketing services for Excite@Home and was one of the parts of the company hardest hit by the slowdown in advertising spending, Xavier said. A skeleton crew of about 40 people will phase out MatchLogic's operations by year's end.

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