Beenz.com announces layoffs in US, UK

Incentive-based rewards company Beenz.com announced this week that it has laid off 43 people from its UK and US offices and decided to move its focus away from the Internet.

          Incentive-based rewards company Beenz.com announced this week that it has laid off 43 people from its UK and US offices and decided to move its focus away from the Internet.

          Beenz.com works by rewarding users with "beenz" for things like filling in surveys and registering with mailing lists. Beenz can then be used at other sites for items ranging from gift certificates to DVDs (digital versatile disc).

          Because the company deals almost exclusively with companies whose sole business is online, the recent market downturn has effected it tremendously, company founder Charles Cohen said.

          "The market fall was probably the catalyst that started the whole thing rolling, now many businesses that were our customers are no longer in business," he said.

          In the last week, the company laid off 25 employees in its New York and San Francisco offices and had 18 "voluntary redundancies" in the U.K. Although the problem is global, the U.S. was hardest hit by layoffs because the market has been especially bad there, Cohen said.

          "We will close as many of our offices as we have to, and as few as we need to," he said.

          The restructuring of the company will see it focus on shifting its revenue stream from the online world into incentive schemes for both customers and employees of brick-and-mortar companies. Beenz plans to do this by having companies include a personalized URL (uniform resource locator) with products customers buy in physical stores, which would still give customers the reward points upon filling out the online form.

          Cohen hopes to see the new URL system on shelves during the first quarter of 2001, but admits it may be later because of the logistics involved.

          "We don't have any companies signed on yet, but we are in advanced negotiations with a number of them," he said.

          Beenz, in London, can be reached at +44-20-7886-0700 or on the Web at http://www.beenz.com/.

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