I-shops take a blood bath

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Like a Humpty Dumpty tale, the once almighty MarchFirst-No. 1 on this year's Advertising Age's Interactive 100 with 8,900 employees and 1999 revenues of $209.4 million-suffered a brutal blow as the stock market punished its roll-up strategy. Investors sent its stock tumbling more than 98% from its 52-week high to trade last week around $1.

The Chicago-based company laid off 1,000 employees, or about 10% of its workforce, and closed the year struggling with a severe cash shortfall.

A weakened market for Internet professional services triggered layoffs and office closings industrywide. The afflicted range from IXL, Atlanta, and Razorfish, New York, to Beyond Interactive, Ann Arbor, Mich., Organic, San Francisco, and Luminant Worldwide Corp., Dallas.

Marissa Gluck, senior analyst at Jupiter Research, called it "a blood bath" and said no one was immune.

Particularly hard hit were I-shops with heavy dot-com client lists.

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