Hi-tech PR job cuts are latest CA crisis

MOUNTAIN VIEW & WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA: Job casualties at California

hi-tech agencies continued to climb this week, as San Francisco-based

Blanc & Otus and Manning Selvage & Lee Global Technology both announced

layoffs due to slowdowns in the Internet and emerging tech sector.

B&O CEO Jonelle Birney, who also acts as head of parent company Hill &

Knowlton's global technology practice, confirmed her agency had cut

seven positions in the Mountain View office.

'The Silicon Valley office, which had in the past couple of years

focused on consumer technology and b-to-c Internet business, grew very

fast and added lots of staff to meet demand,' Birney explained. 'Now

because of the slowing in that market, we have had to contract to match

staff to capacity.'

The layoffs do not affect other B&O offices. Acquired by H&K in early

1999, B&O has been one of the fastest-growing PR firms in the hi-tech

sector, nearly doubling in employees and client fees from 1998 to 2000.

While Mountain View-based clients have included such troubled or

now-defunct companies as Third Age Media, PeoplePC and Productopia,

other agency accounts include name brands such as TiVo and Compaq, which

is shared with H&K.

Meanwhile, MS&L has eliminated nine positions in its San Fernando

Valley-based Global Technology unit. According to EVP of worldwide

operations Lonny Unger, four employees were let go, and another five

were offered other positions within the company.

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