Last night, Last.fm staff in London were celebrating their Christmas party at a venue complete with hot tub. Through today’s hangover, they heard about 20 percent are being disposed of as parent CBS Interactive (NYSE: CBS) restructures in a cost-cutting move. CBS, which splashed out $280 million in May 2007 on the social music site, confirmed to us “around 20” of its 95 staff are being laid off. Clearly it’s part of wider cost-cutting and integration within CBS Interactive, which today confirmed our earlier story it’s merging its CBSNews.com newsroom with that of CNET. No specifics on either Last.fm or CBS/CNET layoffs yet.
Asked about Last.fm, a CBS spokesperson reiterated the party line on the wider strategy: “CBS Interactive continues its integration process, which now calls for the further combination of several portions of the division into unified groups oriented around similar content. This important move allows us to better align our premium content for our audiences and our advertisers, and also results in reduction in certain areas that are now duplicated in the new organisation structure.”
After spending all that dough on the plucky east London social startup, CBS president Leslie Moonves told paidContent:UK last year he wanted to “make them more valid in the United States”, “plug them more into the CBS mainstream” and make money off it through advertising – though he acknowledged their Shoreditch culture was rather different from regular CBS execs. Bridging the Transatlantic divide, a marketing VP was hired in New York to work on threading the site in to CBS’ other properties. The pair had begun exploiting overlaps with CBS Radio and had done a white-label AOL (NYSE: TWX) Radio but, whilst Last.fm redesigned itself earlier this year, the pledged integration hasn’t been fully realised, with the promise of “scrobbling” social TV viewing still absent.