Destiny WebSolutions cutting back The Conshohocken firm closed its Chicago office. Its workforce, once at 115, has been reduced to 30.

Posted: December 20, 2001

Destiny WebSolutions Inc., a Conshohocken consulting firm that rode the Internet boom as a builder of Web services for financial institutions, has cut most of its workforce and is hoarding its remaining cash.

Destiny closed its Chicago office last month and has reduced its staff - all in Pennsylvania and New York - to 30, spokesman Frank Wilkinson confirmed yesterday. The company's employment peaked at 115 last year.

He said that Destiny still had $7 million in cash and that he hoped that would be enough to see it through the recession. Wilkinson would not comment on Destiny's relationship with Citigroup Inc., which workers said had been its major customer in recent months.

Destiny's investors include New York and Boston venture capitalists, along with two venture-capital funds partly financed by Pennsylvania taxpayers: Pennsylvania Early Stage Partners and the Ben Franklin Technology Partnership.

Destiny's profile has fallen since the heady days of the tech-stock bubble. Then, such rivals as Scient Inc. of New York and Viant Corp. of Boston sold stock to the public and briefly commanded billion-dollar market capitalizations.

Safeguard Scientifics Inc., of Wayne, which organized the Pennsylvania Early Stage fund, promoted Destiny as a candidate for an initial public stock offering.

The collapse of tech stocks and a slowdown in Web projects have forced Scient and Viant to lay off hundreds and have destroyed their stock-market value. And they have put a Destiny stock offering out of reach.

Despite Destiny's failure to land many long-term contracts with big financial institutions, the company's backers have persisted in promoting the firm as one of the Philadelphia area's more durable new-technology companies.

The Ben Franklin partnership lists Destiny on its Web site as one of its "success stories." Destiny's leader, Lucinda Duncalfe Holt, was named chief executive officer of the year by the Safeguard-backed Eastern Technology Council two months ago, and an entrepreneur of the year by the accounting firm Ernst & Young in the spring. In November, Deloitte & Touche L.L.P. and Forbes Magazine listed Destiny in the top quarter of their national "Fast 500" list of the nation's "most successful technology-focused companies."

Joseph N. DiStefano can be reached at 215-854-5957 or jdistefano@phillynews.com.

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