Cutbacks Hit ITV Firms


Interactive-television companies RespondTV Inc. and WorldGate Communications Inc. recently laid off dozens of employees, following significant cutbacks earlier this year.

WorldGate — which slashed 20 percent of its work force in April — cut an additional 16 percent of its payroll two weeks ago, said CEO Hal Krisbergh. About 200 employees remain at the company, which sells an Internet TV product, an interactive program guide and ITV middleware, Krisbergh said.

The recent cuts involved non-engineering positions, such as marketing, Krisbergh said. The layoffs extend a process begun in April, when WorldGate said it wanted to cut costs in order to fulfill a promise to Wall Street that it would reach cash-flow break even in 2002, Krisbergh added.

Cuts at interactive advertising company RespondTV were more harsh. It had already cut 25 percent of its staff in February and an additional 25 percent in April, and now has only 15 workers after letting more workers go two weeks ago, one source said.

"We've become a development company again, is what it amounts to," RespondTV CEO David Kaiser said.

RespondTV president Richard Fisher also resigned. Kaiser said he and Fisher agreed some time ago that if the ITV market didn't improve, Fisher would leave the company.

"He's not really an engineering-development executive, he's a TV guy — that's why we hired him," Kaiser said.

Fisher has been replaced as president by RespondTV executive vice president of product development David How.

RespondTV was dealt a major blow in June, when AT&T Broadband changed its ITV strategy of deploying services on advanced digital set-tops, opting instead to roll such products out on low-end boxes it already had in the field. The MSO had been planning to deploy RespondTV's interactive advertising service before the switch.