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Online Extra: Goodbye, "Guru of Fun"

Forget those flashy dot-com job titles. As Web companies focus on profits, they're turning gladiators into customer-service managers

In the wild and woolly days of the dot-com craze, "gladiators" and "crusaders" lorded over PeopleSupport's customer service reps, who handled call-center work for the Westwood (Calif.) company's clients. The fledgling company came up with the fanciful job titles as a way to lure prospective employees in a tight labor market. "Customer care manager" and "production supervisor?" BORRRRING. Even the marketing coordinator at PeopleSupport, which handles customer service over the phone and Web for companies including Liz Claiborne and VeriSign, rechristened herself: She became a "marketing mechanic."

"Everyone was creating new titles in Internet-speak," says Amy Berkus, a PeopleSupport spokeswoman. "We wanted titles that conveyed team spirit and a fun atmosphere. A lot of our clients were dot-coms and it just fit the time."