Web currency company Beenz has cut more than half of its US staff, warning that more redundancies may follow in the New Year, including up to one fifth of its UK jobs.
A confidential internal memo seen by vnunet.com stated that a special executive committee has been set up to re-engineer the business. It also said that some of the company's offices and country-specific business will close as a result.
Beenz's website said that the firm employs 260 staff in offices in New York, San Francisco, London, Paris, Rome, Sydney, Singapore, Tokyo and Hong Kong, and is also represented in China.
However, the company denied reports that it will close all its offices apart from its UK branch as part of the restructuring plans.
Beenz founder Charles Cohen flatly denied that the closures will be so widespread, but did acknowledge that the memo is genuine and that it has been sent to all the company's staff.
"There's nothing in that memo I wouldn't be happy to see on the front page of the Sunday Times," he told vnunet.com.
However, Cohen was unable to say how many staff are still employed by Beenz, which of them would lose their jobs or which offices would close. He said this is because a company review of each country's performance is ongoing and will not be completed until March 2001.
Cohen did say that Beenz had laid off a significant number of employees at its New York and San Francisco offices, which are home to customer support, sales and technical staff. It is understood that 25 of the firm's 46 US staff have gone, and that the firm is looking to shed one fifth of its UK staff through voluntary redundancies.
He blamed current market conditions among dotcoms for the cuts, as the company has a significant number of such businesses as clients. But Cohen categorically denied that Beenz is in financial trouble, saying that it is doing the smart thing in cutting back investment now.
"Bankruptcy is not on the agenda. We've always been very, very careful about our burn rate, which is less than half of what it was six months ago and is in the range that guarantees our future," he said.
The privately funded company completed its last round of financing this summer. Cohen said that he does not anticipate that further funding will be required in either 2001 or 2002.
"We have a balance sheet others would kill for," he said. "But given what's happened in the market, if you don't do the smart thing, the business won't grow and in the long term it is potentially at risk. Right now it is a vibrant, going concern."
Cohen said that each office will be examined on a country-by-country basis to see if it merits further investment. He said Beenz will use the money saved to invest in plans to license its technology to corporations for employee loyalty schemes and other offline activities for which it is seeking strategic partners.
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