Four Layoffs and a Funeral: Vivendi, Northstar, Imperium, and CarDomain Cut Staff, Dipiti Shuts Doors

Heading into the dog days of August, just a reminder that not all is happy in sunny Seattle. In the past week, we’ve seen four area tech companies confirm significant layoffs and one startup close its doors. The bad news is not limited to one or two tech sectors, either: it cuts across a wide range of industries, from medical devices and cleantech to Web 2.0, search, and entertainment.

Vivendi Games, a French gaming giant, has laid off 53 workers in its Issaquah, WA, offices effective mid-September, according to the state Employment Security Department’s dislocated worker unit. Last month Vivendi and Activision completed a merger to create a division of Vivendi called Activision Blizzard, based in Santa Monica, CA. The Issaquah office is part of this division. (It was originally Secret Lair Studios, which was acquired by Vivendi in 2006.)

Northstar Neuroscience, a medical-device company based in Seattle, has cut 34 percent of its workforce, leaving it with 38 employees. Northstar has halted development of its brain-stimulation device for stroke patients, and is shifting its focus to depression. The company is currently fending off a takeover bid from shareholder Tang Capital Partners.

Imperium Renewables, the Seattle-based refiner of biodiesel fuels, has laid off a portion of its corporate staff. As first reported last Wednesday in the Seattle P-I, the company has not disclosed the number of workers cut, but has confirmed that layoffs occurred. Imperium’s refinery in Grays Harbor, WA, is still operating.

—Seattle-based CarDomain, an online community site for car and truck enthusiasts, has cut an undisclosed number of staff in response to a drop in advertising sales. The P-I estimates that eight people lost their jobs and that the company now employs fewer than 50 people.

—Lastly, Dipiti, a Seattle-based search startup, has shut its doors. As reported in the P-I, the company focused on mining online message boards and forums, but “didn’t have the resources it needed to accelerate product development and user adoption,” according to CEO Dave Rice. As of February, Dipiti employed nine people and was backed by WestRiver Capital and former Microsoft senior-VP-turned-investor Scott Oki.

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