New York--Once high-flying Internet research firm Jupiter Media Metrix Inc. plans to fire 180 workers, or 30% of its staff. The beleaguered firm is also searching for an executive to oversee its marketing and sales activities.The layoffs reflect the difficulties that Jupiter and its competitors are having maintaining sizeable staffs, mostly because once free-spending clients are reducing spending on research. "In this extreme market climate ... it is important that we are efficient and conservative with our resources," said Robert Becker, Jupiter CEO, in a statement. Jupiter is trying to cut its annual operating expenses by $40 million. The latest round of layoffs follows cutbacks last April, when it fired 18% of its staff. In recent months, Jupiter's share price has fallen dramatically, and it has gone from being a Wall Street darling to a penny stock. Its shares are trading in the 46-cent to 49-cent range, off a 52-week high of $16.13.Once Jupiter selects a marketing leader-a title for the newly created position has not been decided on-he or she will report directly to Becker. Jupiter's search underscores the increasing emphasis that it and its competitors are placing on marketing. Last July, Jupiter rival Gartner Group Inc. appointed Robert Knapp as its chief marketing officer, a new position. Marketing is a business discipline that only 18 months ago was a backwater at research firms, which in many cases had more business than they could handle. Separately, Jupiter also announced that Kurt Abrahamson, formerly group president of U.S. Business, has been promoted to president of Jupiter Research.
--Philip B. Clark