News Fires 75
Calvin Reid -- 11/27/00

Citing increased demands for Web businesses to be productive and profitable,, the encyclopedia company's free Web information service and database, announced it was laying off 75 workers, almost 20% of its staff. Encyclopaedia Britannica, its parent company, employs about 390 people worldwide.

The job cuts were spread throughout the firm's Chicago offices and affected several departments, including editorial, technology, marketing and e-commerce. A spokesperson for said the layoffs would not affect Britannica Online, a subscription reference Web site aimed at schools and libraries, or the parent company Encyclopaedia Britannica. The announcement comes on the heels of the recent departure of's CFO, Jim Hurley, and editor-at-large Bob McHenry.

Don Yannias, CEO of, said the layoffs "will make us a stronger company and should enable us to achieve the type of success financially that we have realized editorially." Yannias also pointed to new demands on Web companies: "The change in the way the financial community now evaluates Internet companies means we must reach profitability as quickly as possible."

Yannias said he expects the site to license material from other publishers to reduce editorial costs. will focus on its popularity as an advertising-supported reference database and Web retailer. The site will be redesigned early next year with new e-commerce features.

Since Britannica. com launched a year ago, the site has been ranked among the 100 most popular sites on the Web. EB is also developing, a subscription-based educational site offering resources and study guides for students and curriculum materials for teachers. The site should launch by December.