Z, Icebox & H’w’d.com layoff staff

Workers take pay, work station accouterments

Three entertainment Netcos caused a dot-commotion Wednesday, with about 40 pinkslips going out at Z.com, Icebox.com and Hollywood.com.

It was the second round of layoffs at the Netcasters, each of which has been struggling to adapt to the no-nonsense attitude investors have taken toward tech companies since the Nasdaq tanked last year.

Multiple sources close to the company said staffers at Z.com were recently told to take a mandatory non-paid vacation while execs assessed the Netco’s future. When the workers returned, all but four staffers were relieved from their duties.

However, CEO Joe DiNunzio denied those reports and told Daily Variety that while the company had been shedding staffers over the past few months, Z.com’s staff currently totals 25.

“Nobody was asked to take time off without pay,” DiNunzio said.

Getting its Z’s

In October, Z.com laid off 50 workers — half its staff at the time. The Netco also reduced its content offerings in an effort to streamline operations and stretch a round of funding that it had received around the same time.

The company’s major backers include Internet incubator Idealab!, Basic Entertainment, 3 Arts Entertainment, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Maverick Records partner Guy Oseary.

Netcaster Icebox.com pinkslipped 11 employees Monday, about 25% of its staff, in another move to cut costs as the Netco looks for an additional round of financing. Icebox laid off 50 production staffers in November and said it was moving to outsource more of its animation and production work.

“These layoffs are part of the streamlining process from before,” said spokeswoman Lisa Spiritus.

Get their computers

Laid-off staffers will receive pay through the end of this week and their work station accouterments, including their computers and swank ergonomic chairs. The same deal was offered to workers who were pinkslipped last year.

Thirty employees remain at Icebox, and Spiritus said the layoffs have not resulted in a decrease of their programming slate.

Hollywood.com is cutting its crew by more than 50%. Official accounts said eight of 15 staffers in the Santa Monica office were laid off Wednesday, although others said the number was as high as 11. The employees that remain in Los Angeles are mostly editorial staffers.

Network Manager John Graves said the parent company, Hollywood Media Corp., is continuing to move the focus of its operations in its Boca Raton, Fla., and Gotham offices, where hiring continues unabated. An internal memo about the layoffs was distributed Wednesday morning, he said.

Graves said the Santa Monica office will soon close and the remaining employees will be moved to new digs in Hollywood.

Hollywood Media Corp., has seen its stock price suffer in recent months, even with a push in September to consolidate operations in Florida. that resulted in dozens of layoffs in the Santa Monica office. Although it closed up 4% to $6.38 on Wednesday, it remains down from its one-year high of $20.50.

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