Interactive Shops Continue Slide

IXL’s latest cutbacks underscore the growing pains—and in many cases outright contractions—being suffered by interactive marketing firms nationwide.

Atlanta-based iXL is consolidating its Massachusetts operations at its Wakefield, Mass., office, said iXL representative Bill Getch. IXL employs 315 in its combined Wakefield and Cambridge, Mass., operations, and sources said up to half of those people were told last week that they were being let go.

Getch declined to confirm any layoffs as a result of that consolidation and declined to comment on reports of sizeable staff layoffs at iXL’s 115-person San Francisco office.

He did say “fewer than 20” marketing staffers, mainly at the Atlanta headquarters, are being let go; this follows iXL’s layoffs three weeks ago of 350 employees networkwide, a figure iXL said equaled 10 percent of its global work force.

Amid last week’s turmoil, iXL chief marketing officer Jonathan Ballon resigned.

In recent weeks, most top Internet marketing companies have cut staff, closed offices, seen their stocks tank or released dismal financial numbers. Analysts attribute the downturn to a general softness in the Internet market and excessive hiring and collateral expenditures by some of the companies themselves.

Interpublic Group of Cos. confirmed a 10-14 percent layoff in the 700-person work force of its Zentropy Partners unit, though sources insist the actual cuts are much deeper. Omnicom Group’s Razorfish is also believed to be cutting 6-8 percent of its 1,800-person staff. AnswerThink confirmed cuts in its London and Boston offices and plans to close the latter.

On Thursday, L90, Modem Media and Viant all released third-quarter numbers over which, due to losses or disappointing earnings, analysts raised concerns.