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Webnoize Suspends Operations

Webnoize, a Cambridge, Mass.-based media and entertainment research firm that rose to prominence as a sage of the booming Net economy, has fallen victim to that industry’s bust.

The firm announced on its Web site Monday that it plans to cease temporarily its regular online publication of news and research reports. Webnoize also said it will begin an immediate restructuring of its business, in the hope of opening its doors again as early as the first quarter of next year.

Sources familiar with the company said the eight-year-old firm employed about 25 people at its peak but that the number had dwindled to about 15 recently.

Webnoize blamed the precipitous decline of the Internet sector as a whole over the last year for its troubles. The lousy economic environment, coupled with a reluctance to travel following the disasters of Sept. 11, gutted the trade and press turnout at Webnoize’s annual confab showcasing the new media and music industries, held in Los Angeles in October – normally a major source of revenue for the company.

“We are not immune to the same market influences that have affected others in our space,” president and publisher Tom Roli said. “However, we expect to re-emerge in early 2002 with new and improved events, products and services.”

Some former employees said the company had been struggling since well before the annual conference.

“The lack of success for this year’s conference didn’t bury the company but certainly exasperated other problems at Webnoize,” said Ric Dube, a former senior analyst for the firm who left the company three weeks to join record executive Mark Kates at the helm of a new independent label in Boston.

Webnoize has gained some notoriety of late for chronicling the decline of Napster and the subsequent ascent of several alternative file-sharing services powered by the Fasttrack online peer-to-peer network, which Webnoize recently reported matching Napster’s popularity during its heyday last February.

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