Could this be the future of dotcom work? is the online travel agency launched in 1999 by rock star Bob Geldof. Like many of its ilk, it has felt the pinch of changing market attitudes towards technology companies. Last month it laid off 13 of its 51 staff.

World Travel Holdings, which also runs an online travel agency, has also suffered, making a £6.85m loss before tax for the year ending 31 December 2000. But the companies have come together in a deal aimed at turning their fortunes around.

Corporate partner Brian Rutherford won the deal for the London office of US firm Altheimer & Gray through a long-term association with’s chief executive Clive Dolman. Dolman will join the merged company as executive director, so the possibility of future instructions is promising.

Under the terms of the deal, World Travel will pay an initial £3.2m in shares, loan notes and options. There is then a deferred payment of £6m based on trading performance, due over the next three years. Assistant Todd Culyba worked closely on the deal with Rutherford, with both men clocking up 100-hour weeks during the three weeks of negotiations.