Minneapolis-based wwwrrr Inc., an online education site, has become the latest casualty of the dot-com struggle. The company laid off its remaining 120 employees and closed its doors Jan. 10, citing a lack of funds.
Wwwrrr (pronounced “whir”) had reduced its work force by 20 employees in December and put its remaining employees on an unpaid leave for two weeks to reserve cash as it looked for new investors or a buyer. But the short-term shutdown wasn’t enough to save the company.
Jean Golden, the company’s director of communications, said wwwrrr had been involved in negotiations with a potential investor, but the parties couldn’t reach a final agreement, so wwwrrr had to fold its business. “Our operations have ceased and we’re letting our customers know,” she said.
Wwwrrr, which developed and sold online learning and training programs for parents, teachers, and schools, was founded in March 1999 by Paul Gullickson and Dale LaFrenz. Both men are veterans of the educational software industry, having led a former state agency, the Minnesota Educational Computer Consortium.
Wwwrrr went out of business for the same reason many other internet start-ups are failing: The company found itself needing money just as investors became skittish about the propects of internet companies in general.
Mark Marostica, an online learning analyst with U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray, noted that wwwrrr competed in the K-12 sector of the online learning market and had to persuade schools to use its service. That often meant training teachers on how to use the internet effectively.
“Anytime you’re educating your customers, it’s an uphill battle,” Marostica told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Most of wwwrrr’s products were in the test phase during the last school year. Gullickson said the company had begun to generate revenue, though he declined to say how much.