Gnip Clips 60 Percent Of Staff

API aggregation platform Gnip is laying off 7 out of its 12 employees, or 60 percent of the startup’s staff, we’ve confirmed with CEO and co-founder Eric Marcoullier. He says that Gnip is planning to hire an engineer in the near future, which will bring the final count back up to six employees. We’ve added the cuts to our Layoff Tracker.

Gnip serves as an API hub, collecting data from services like Twitter, Facebook and Digg, and pushing it out to other data-consuming services and Websites. Data consuming sites using Gnip’s platform can get public data streams for over 30 social media networks and sites, including Twitter, Digg, Delicious, YouTube, WordPress, Flickr, Six Apart and others without ever visiting those sites or accessing their individual APIs.

Marcoullier says the reduction in headcount is necessary to streamline the business. Orginally, Gnip tried to build its own database, but it has seen a massive influx of data to the system, which Marcoullier estimates at around 150 million Tweets, status updates, Diggs and bookmarks pulled into the platform per day. Gnip has been forced to restart from the ground up when it comes to building a database that can be a central part of Gnip’s platform. It is abandoning its own effort and will move to an existing database that can be integrated into its service. This shift of focus and manpower has forced Gnip to re-structure its staff. But Marcoullier says that Gnip has a client base of “several dozen” companies that is still growing.

A few months ago, Gnip released its own Push API which lets any site patch together its own version of a Friendfeed or Twitter-like data stream. The new service lets companies filter and white-label the stream so the technology is fully integrated into the business’ infrastructure. Companies list out the most common data requests that are made on their APIs and websites and Gnip will collect the relevant data and deliver it in real-time to any approved third-party. For example, the service would let a travel site analyze real-time data, such as fluctuations in air fare, and syndicate changes in fare sales immediately. Gnip is also committed to help create, a back-up directory for shortened links.

Gnip is trying to build fundamental infrastructure for the real-time Web, but finding the right technology and business model is happening in fits and starts.