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Joe Downtown: Ecomom lays off 17 people after co-founder’s death

Updated Friday, Feb. 1, 2013 | 3:28 p.m.

One of the first tech companies to buy into the vision of downtown Las Vegas’ revival has laid off several employees just three days after the death of its co-founder.

Ecomom, co-founded by Jody Sherman, 47, who the Clark County Coroner's Office said committed suicide Monday, laid off 17 people on Thursday and will operate its Las Vegas office with four people, according to Michael Downs, executive vice president of operations for the Downtown Project. The company will keep four more people employed out of state.

The company closed its headquarters and is using temporary space provided by the Downtown Project until finding a permanent office.

The company's employees will be interviewed over the next two weeks, Downs said, with the hope of finding them jobs with the Downtown Project or any of the 20 companies supported by Vegas Tech Fund.

Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO and one of five partners of the Vegas Tech Fund, a venture capital group that had invested in Ecomom, said efforts are being made to “absorb the employees who were laid off into other Downtown Project and Vegas Tech Fund companies.”

The effort is an example “of the community coming together so we don’t lose the talent, and keep them in the downtown ecosystem,” Hsieh said.

in October 2012, Sherman told the Sun his company had grown from 15 employees to 34 since moving to Vegas. In addition, he said the company, which provides consumer information online about healthy products, had grown 300 percent since its move here about a year ago.

No one answered the phone at the company's office Thursday; emails to various staff also went unanswered.

As one of downtown's tech pioneers, Sherman was known to many.

The startup industry, in general, is one fraught with failure. A Harvard University professor last year reported that three of four venture-backed startups fail to reach their estimated earnings potential.

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