Beenz.com announces layoffs, restructure

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 UK. Although the problem is global, the US 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 personalised 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.

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