Spinning Wheel

Proof that anything can be given a positive spin.

Dateline Little Big Horn. June 26, 1876. Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer yesterday launched a program aimed at setting a positive tone for future relations with American Indians. Although Custer himself was unavailable for comment, government officials report that the initial meeting was truly historic, and is sure to have lasting effects.

That's an imaginary dispatch from the day after Custer's Last Stand, written by an equally imaginary 19th century PR rep. The rep may be imaginary, but his spirit lives on, nonetheless. Consider this spin on e-market services company Lante's announcement that it was laying off 19 percent of its workforce and closing two offices. The company's  Web site called this development a comprehensive plan to reposition the business for revenue growth and profitability in 2001. Well, then aren't things just ever so rosy?

To be fair, the company isn't exactly insolvent. It has $86 million in cash and no debt, both of which are figures a lot of dearly departed dot-coms only dreamed of. And Lante president and CEO Rudy Puryear did show remarkable fortitude in one statement. We did not react as quickly as we should have to the speed and magnitude of this dramatically changing environment. As a result, we are disappointed with our recent financial results. You think?

Puryear didn't shoot straight for long, however. Despite the challenging market conditions, our people are continuing to deliver world-class solutions for our clients, said Puryear. When they're not e-mailing resumes, that is.

I'm not particularly slamming Lante. I'm sure whoever wrote the Web site copy was instructed to write it that way, and he's just trying to keep his job. It's just that, by now, it's common knowledge that there is still some shaking out to be done in the e-world. It wouldn't exactly rock Wall Street to come out and say it.