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By Seth Sutel
AP Business Writer

NEW YORK --, a respected online news company focusing on crime and safety issues, has run out of money and fired all its staff. The site continues to operate on a limited basis by a handful of volunteers while the owners look for new investors.

Marshal Davidson, CEO of, announced the news to the company's 140 employees at a staff meeting Monday morning. A number of employees are continuing to work at least through the end of this week as negotiations with potential investors continue.

Davidson said in a statement that the company was in the midst of its third round of financing in March when the severe downturn in tech stocks hit, drastically lowering the value of many Internet companies. As a result, the company never closed the round of financing.

"Following this downturn was a difficult time to raise capital for most Internet companies, and negotiations with strategic business partners have taken longer than anticipated," Davidson said in a statement.

Company spokesman Joe Krakoviak said was not yet planning to file for bankruptcy. "We continue to believe that we have such a good product that the investors will come on board this week," he said.

In its short life since being launched in November 1998, has garnered accolades from media watchers, a number of journalism awards, and several big-time names from the journalism world, including Sydney Schanberg, who won the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of Cambodia. came out on top in a legal tussle with federal judges over posting financial disclosure forms about them on the Internet. For its efforts, the site won a special citation from the Investigative Reporters and Editors group.

The site has also received awards from the Scripps Howard Foundation and the Society of Professional Journalists. In mid-may, O.J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark signed on with as a senior analyst and columnist.

Copyright 2000 The Associated Press

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