AKQA, the London-headquartered online agency bought last year by Accenture to bolster its previously tenuous e-marketing credentials, has reportedly laid-off over half the 125 staff at its San Francisco office.

AKQA’s flagship San Francisco client Palm has been undergoing hard times with concomitant cutbacks in adspend, although the office is believed to be one of two finalists for the $10–$14 million interactive business of Visa USA [WAMN: 31-May-01].

Word is that surviving AKQA staff have had a 10% salary cut imposed. It is also said there are casualties at the New York office, among them chief financial officer Bill Erosh and chief global officer Bob Poulin. Neither could be contacted by an Advertising Age reporter who was referred by voicemail back to the San Francisco office.

At the London office, voluble AKQA founder and co-chairman Ajaz Ahmed – not famed for his reticence in talking to the press – was equally uncommunicative, referring all callers to chief operating officer Tom Bedecarre. The latter declined to pick up his phone.

AKQA, Europe's largest independent Internet development and consulting company was last year acquired by Accenture – formerly Andersen Consulting – and merged with US online specialists Citron Haligman Bedecarré and Magnet Interactive, alongside Singapore-based new media agency The AdInc.

News source: Advertising Age - Interactive Daily