Web broadcaster Cidera fires 80 to 90

`Painful, dramatic move' by firm of 265 workers

January 06, 2001|By Stacey Hirsh | Stacey Hirsh,SUN STAFF

Cidera Inc., a Laurel company that uses satellite technology to broadcast Web pages and Internet content, laid off about a third of its work force this week, according to a company spokesman.

Eighty to 90 of the company's 265 workers were laid off Wednesday and Thursday. The cuts were made across many departments and included senior management.

Employees who lost their jobs were offered severance packages that included money, job counseling and references.

"This is a painful, dramatic move with a very serious human dimension," the spokesman said. "But it's essential for our business future that we adjust our direction and that we do it now."

Cidera's move to cut workers comes shortly after Cidera's founder and chairman, Doug Humphrey, returned to his former position of chief executive officer, replacing Richard Hanna.

The cuts come about a month after the company withdrew its plans for an initial public offering after raising $75 million in its fourth round of venture capital financing.

Cidera had filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission in March, with plans to sell 5.75 million shares that would have raised about $57.5 million. But company officials said Dec. 5 that an inhospitable market for IPOs in recent weeks led them to seek private financing.

Aether Systems Inc., the Owings Mills wireless technology company, and PSINet Inc., the Ashburn, Va., Internet service provider, were among Cidera's latest investors.

Francesca Mabarak, a senior analyst of wireless mobile technologies for the Yankee Group in Boston, said she hasn't heard of much downsizing in the wireless industry, where there's a shortage of experienced workers.

"There are a lot of companies that are having to take different directions in the wireless space because the wireless space is just inundated," she said.

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