BLUELIGHT STAFFS UP VIA DOT-COM CUTBACKS
Byline: Valerie Seckler
NEW YORK — Bucking — and benefiting from — the burgeoning trend of dot-com layoffs, BlueLight.com disclosed plans Thursday to expand its workforce of 110 people by 27 percent, or 30 employees, by Dec. 31.
The additions will come in Michigan, Ohio, and at its San Francisco base, where BlueLight.com is hiring for new posts almost daily.
Most of the new hires are in technology and merchandising positions, and a significant number are coming from failed dot-com players, according to Mark Goldstein, chief executive officer of the discount e-tailer and free Internet service provider that is 60-percent owned by Kmart Corp.
“The recruiting experience has changed dramatically,” Goldstein said Thursday. “With the depth of the dot-com talent, especially in the San Francisco area, we don’t use headhunters anymore. In a sense, the fruit has fallen from the tree, and we can scoop it up.
“This is enabling us to move forward in developing e-commerce initiatives to complement Kmart’s bricks initiatives,” Goldstein added. To accommodate this growth, corporate headquarters are moving at the end of July to a larger site near Fisherman’s Wharf.
BlueLight.com has been receiving roughly 250 resumes per week, with about 50 of them, or 20 percent, currently coming from former employees of belly-up dot-coms.
Back in February, by comparison, it was only getting around 20 resumes per week from Internet flameouts. Officials reported resumes have been “pouring in” from sites including Reel.com, Petstore.com, and HomeWareHouse.com — which ceased operations last week.
Mass-market rival Wal-Mart.com has purchased the technology assets of HomeWareHouse .com, based in of San Mateo, Calif., and will keep about a dozen members of the engineering and design teams for its site Wal-Mart.com, in Menlo Park, Calif. Wal-Mart.com is an independent company majority-owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and established earlier this year with Accel Partners.
In addition, BlueLight.com said it has gotten resumes from companies whose stock has taken a sharp turn south, including BeBe, Women.com, NBCi, Hyperion and Luminant. “The tumultuous economic conditions in the e-commerce market over the past few months have left successful brick-and-mortar companies like BlueLight in a unique position, with vast opportunities for hiring qualified employees,” Goldstein said in referring to the timing of the company’s expansion.
“At BlueLight we hope to build our team by taking advantage of the current environment and the wealth of available, or soon to be available, employees with e-tailing experience.”
Most of the technical employees will be added in San Francisco while the merchandisers will be headed to the Detroit area, where Kmart is based. Some customer service representatives will be set up in Columbus, Ohio, where BlueLight.com has a strategic partnership with SubmitOrder.com.
The majority of new hires are expected to be on the job at the e-tailer by December 18. BlueLight.com was formed in December 1999 by Kmart and Softbank Venture Capital with additional investments from Yahoo and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc.
While established as an independent entity, BlueLight.com is currently implementing a “Sticky Bricks” strategy, which is designed to leverage synergies between the BlueLight Web site and Kmart’s stores, by appealing to Kmart’s 32 million U.S. customers in a variety of shopping channels.
BlueLight.com’s is one of the fastest growing free Internet service providers in U.S. history, claiming nearly three million subscribers after just seven months.