Altavista has announced the scaling down of its portal activities, and has laid off a quarter of its staff in the process.
About 225 of Altavista's workforce are without jobs this week after the announcement that the company will refocus on its search engine business in order to guarantee profitability by the end of January 2001.
The company has announced that it intends to concentrate on its core competency in search technology after its ambitious move into the content business failed to prove profitable. Announcing that its Irvine and San Mateo units will be consolidated into its Palo Alto headquarters, the majority of Altavista's cuts will affect its North American operations. At the same time, it has planned an ambitious roll-out in the rest of the world.
Altavista expects to have developed market-specific portals in more than 35 countries by July 2001. According to international development director Martin Keogh, this is due to the realisation that more than 55 per cent of Altavista's users come from outside the US.
"It has become part of our strategy to develop market-specific search engines," he said. "In October last year, we moved out of the US for the first time because we found that there was more traffic coming from outside the US going to Altavista.com than from within it.
"We have also decided that for the initial stages of this expansion, they are just going to be search sites, not portals," he told ARN.
In recent months, the company has achieved positive results from the opening of search engines throughout Europe, and the trend is expected to continue into the Asia-Pacific region.