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Orbit decays as Globe shuts sites

Cyberbiz Brief

Online gaming and chat venture TheGlobe.com said Friday that it is all but pulling the plug — shuttering two sites, firing half of its staff and seeking buyout offers for its five popular online gaming ventures, including Happy Puppy and Kids Domain.

The New York-based company said the souring advertising market is forcing it to shutter community site TheGlobe.com and small business builder WebJump.com on Aug. 15.

In addition to the closures, it will cut 60 of its total 121 staffers. At its peak, when champagne flowed at trendy latenight Manhattan parties, TheGlobe.com employed upward of 350 people.

“The decision to discontinue our community operations, which contribute disproportionately to our operating losses, allows our senior management team to focus solely on TheGlobe.com’s core strength — games,” CEO Chuck Peck said.

TheGlobe’s network of game sites rank among the top three with online game audiences.

A Wall Street darling until the recent dot-com crash, TheGlobe was founded in 1994 by two Cornell U. undergrads, Stephan Paternot and Todd Krizelman. The company’s stock soared a record 606% in its 1998 IPO debut and sparked the dot-com mania, only to became a symbol of Internet-era excess.

The company’s stock traded as high as $97 on its first day, but now the shares trade below 25¢ and the market cap hovers at about $4 million.

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