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STAMFORD, CT-Walker Digital Corp., which helped give birth to such dotcom ventures as Priceline.com, has fired 100 of its 135 corporate headquarters staff at 5 High Ridge Park. However, a company spokesman says it has no plans to vacate or downsize its office space operations here and in New York City.

Kevin Goldman, a spokesman for Walker Digital, says that the company laid off approximately 100 corporate headquarters employees as part of a restructuring program. However, he notes that the company will not downsize its office operations. The company occupies approximately 40,000 sf of space here.

“Walker Digital after an extensive internal review is restructuring its headquarters staff to allow the company to focus more efficiently on its core functions–specifically its invention laboratory, the licensing of its intellectual property portfolio and the commercialization of several businesses already in development,” Goldman says.

Walker Digital, which was founded by Jay Walker–the founder of Priceline.com–has invented more than 150 new Internet businesses and has more than 40 U.S. patents on more than 450 patent applications since its inception in 1994.

Also part of the restructuring program, Walker Digital has discontinued three early stage start-up businesses: Atlantis Investment in Atlanta, High Circle in Los Angeles and Pulse 1,2,3 in San Francisco. Goldman did not know how many workers at those concerns were affected by the shutdowns.

While Goldman stresses that Walker Digital will move forward with its other ventures, Dianne Zaremba, a former executive assistant with Walker Digital’s department of policy, planning and communications, charges that the company has “all but shut down.”

“There’s not a living human being in the office,” she alleges, “oh there might be a security guard there, but everybody else was gone as of Tuesday (Nov. 20).” Zaremba was let go earlier this week.

Goldman counters that there are still corporate headquarters workers operating out of the company’s Stamford offices although much less than before the layoffs were implemented this week.

Norman Eaton, vice president of F.D. Rich Management Co., which manages the High Ridge Park office complex, says that to date Walker Digital has not contacted the company one way or the other concerning its 40,000 sf leased space at 5 High Ridge Park. He says that the company has been told that a Walker Digital company could be leasing space at 5 High Ridge Park in the near future, which could account for why the company has no plans to downsize its space there.

However, that is not to say that the six building, 500,000-sf complex has not been impacted by the downturn in the dotcom sector. WebHouse Club, a licensee of Priceline.com, which announced in October it would shut down operations, has already vacated its 130,000 sf of space at the Greenwich American Centre and has also moved out of 14,000 sf of space at 4 High Ridge Park, Eaton says. In addition, the company is utilizing 27,000 sf of space at 2 High Ridge Park to house employees involved in winding down of WebHouse’s operations. Eaton relates that the WebHouse space at 2 High Ridge Park is expected to come back on the market by January 2001.

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