Friday, January 26, 2001

The Cyber Scene in Atlanta ~ by Frank Wrenn

Different Mood, Similar Results

While I had a great time and met really interesting people at the Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association's Happy Hour on January 18, there was a palpable feeling in the air that things weren't how they used to be. Granted, the heavy downpour of rain surely kept away many of the former regulars, but there were probably other reasons for the small crowd. As I climbed the stairs at Gordon Biersch to the private-party area, I was greeted at the by Billy Kramer, AiMa's membership director (also of He and's Danielle Falcone were passing out the beer tickets at the door. We chatted for a while, and then I grabbed a frosty beverage and heading to the food.

Just a few short months ago, I had heard the following conversation at an AiMaevent.
"How do y'all make money?"
"We don't. That's the beauty of it."

Times have changed, and many of those struggling start-ups are no longer struggling. They've been put out of their misery. But while the event had plenty of talk of lay-offs (it seemed to come up in every conversation), there was still a sense of optimism--that laid-off friends could easily find another job.

Another difference from events of old: there were also not as many people present from traditional "dot-coms." While there were some, including folks from, there were plenty of people from agencies, including Hook Media and WestWayne. While chowing down on pizzas, wings, and potstickers, I struck up a conversation with Marc Goldberg, who is a new client acquisition manager at Sevista Messaging Technologies.

We talked a bit about The Cyber Scene and about his company, which enables businesses to send personalized, time-sensitive, event-based communications. In addition, their software enables businesses to tailor their content and services to individuals' preferences for true one-to-one communications. ( Afterwards, I chatted with Susanna Poulson and Ted Duff of Alta Vista, who were in town from New York on business. They certainly contributed to the talk of lay-offs, as Alta Vista had that very day announced job cuts of 200 people because of the weak online advertising market. Luckily for those of us who braved the torrents (and still had jobs or at least came out to find a job), the small attendance meant extra beer tickets if you stuck around long enough. Lucky late night imbibers included both Susanna and Ted as well as Billy Kramer and Danielle Falcone. Also enjoying extra Gordon Biersch micro-brews were Buddy Schwenk and Brian Conlan of Managed Storage International.

Lay-Offs at eTour, New CEO at IXL Alta Vista wasn't the only company announcing lay-offs last week. Atlanta's former media darling, eTour, cut 37 positions of its staff of 148. The company is reducing its operating costs in order to have positive cash flow by the end of the year.

In other news, eTour investor Bertram Ellis has stepped down as CEO of Atlanta-based IXL, which has seen its share of recent lay-offs as well. He will remain chairman. Stepping up to the plate is Christopher Forman, formerly of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

If you have information on Atlanta news and events, send it to me at