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British entertainment outfit 9to5cafe.com cut its workforce by half this morning as the dotcom plague continues to claim victims.

Five employees were given the 'we're sorry to lose you but...' speech this morning as the operation had to face up to its own financial shortcomings.

Kevin Hassall, head of development at AIM-listed parent of 9to5cafe.com, On-Line Plc, told The Register there were no plans to "kill it entirely".

At the moment, On-Line is happy to bide its time but would be happy to discuss a partnership agreement or an outright sale if a buyer could be found.

Like many dotcom casualties, the problem stems from a severe lack of cash.

Said Hassall bluntly: "9to5cafe.com has no short-term revenue stream and we don't project that it will make money for two years.

"In short, the bottom line does not look good."

How quickly things change. It seems like only yesterday (well, 30 October to be precise) that the outfit issued a statement headlined: "On-Line Plc Shatters Internet Gloom - Internet pioneers post record profits!"

Intoxicated by its own success, could barely maintain its excitement that, for the year ending 30 June 2000, On-Line PLC notched up group profits of £2.58 million against losses of £182 million for the previous year.

In a statement, On-line chairman Michael Hodges said: "We were one of the first Internet companies to float in the UK, and are now one of the first to show that the net can deliver returns. I hope this will clear away the cloud of despondency that has formed around the Internet in the eyes of the Investment community."

Other thoroughbreds in On-line's stable include financial Web site ADVFN.com, which was floated in March 2000; AAA Game, a games developer and publisher; and advertising platform Advertwizard. ®

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