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OneMediaPlace, a pioneering business-to-business site for buying and selling media, terminated about 50 employees March 5, setting the stage for the sale of the venture, according to an executive close to the New York- and San Francisco-based company.

Only a handful of technicians will remain, the executive said. What remains of OneMediaPlace is set to be sold to Media Passage, another online media buying site, the individual said.

Jerry Machovina, president-CEO of OneMediaPlace, and Gilbert Scherer, chairman-CEO of Media Passage, weren't immediately available for comment.

OneMediaPlace allowed advertisers to buy print, radio, TV, outdoor and online media directly from media companies via the Internet. The site took a commission from the seller. In January, the site claimed more than 3,500 registered sellers and more than 14,000 registered buyers, but those numbers have since significantly dropped.

"Our proposition was just not supported by the industry," the executive said.

OneMediaPlace was launched as Adauction about three years ago. Media agencies greeted the venture with skepticism because the service allowed advertisers to do deals without the agencies. Many media agency executives had accused Adauction of simply selling remnant media placements.

The company was relaunched as OneMediaPlace last April, and the following month the company put together $67 million in private investment financing from Primedia, Liberty Media, Artemis and CMGI @Ventures, the venture capital affiliate of CMGI. Other investment and strategic partners included Lehmen Brothers, Viventures, Convergence Partners and Amerindo Investment Advisors.

Copyright March 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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