Bad Sign: Layoffs at About.com

Fact-conveying site About.com has always been a moneymaker in the New York Times Co.'s portfolio (somehow), even as its newspapers were spiraling downwards. But now About has its own problems:

About.com is laying off 19 staffers, or 5.9 percent of its workforce, Reuters reported. The lay offs are spread across ad sales, client services, marketing and editorial. After another quarter of disappointing revenue numbers, About.com instituted a pay freeze and reduced travel outlays, aside from other efforts to cut costs, to reflect its falling revenue picture.

That's not good! This is kind of like getting rejected by your safety school (Brown, in the case of Times staffers). PaidContent points out that About's revenue had been steadily increasing, strongly, up until the latter half of '08. It's now started to slide downwards. If the company did want to sell it to raise cash, this year would probably be a bad time to do so. [PaidContent]