Softbank rep firm cuts 13

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Internet ad rep firm Softbank Interactive Marketing has laid off 13 staffers from its marketing and communications group and closed down its Capistrano Beach, Calif., office. Among those let go: Laura Dalton, editor of the recently launched Digitrends, which at one point was to have become an interactive marketing magazine but evolved into a public relations organ.

SIM said the move was made so it could focus attention on its Web site repping business. SIM has grown from 20 people to more than 100 in the past year, the majority of them selling ads on sites including CompuServe, TV Guide, ZD Net and WebChat Broadcasting System, SIM's newest client, announced on Tuesday.

"When we formed Softbank Interactive Marketing, it was a merger of three companies. We had offered a wide range of services to different audiences," said Andrew Batkin, SIM's CEO. "We decided to place our resources behind our media sales group." He said SIM is in the process of hiring seven more reps and rep assistants to service clients.

SIM last year stopped producing conferences, with the exception of Camp Internet; it handed over that business to Softbank Expos. Mr. Batkin's predecessor company, Interactive Marketing Inc., had run the Conference on Interactive Marketing, a twice-yearly show.

SIM also has struggled with its position in the news business, hiring staff including Ms. Dalton for a journalistic publication more than a year ago. The future of Digitrends hasn't been decided, Mr. Batkin said, though there are no longer plans for a news publication.

Copyright January 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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