Esurance, the online insurance provider, is negotiating to sell itself to a brick-and-mortar insurance company or a private firm, said chief executive officer Jean Bernard Duler.

The company has also laid off 30 of its 115 employees and intends to refocus on its core business of selling auto insurance on the Web. The cuts came among employees working on the company's recent forays into selling homeowners and renters insurance, Mr. Duler said.

The decision to sell came after a period of rapid growth and the disruption of a third round of venture funding when a lead investor pulled out. The company had already raised a total of $39 million in two rounds of capital-raising. "We're running at a pace that was way too fast," Mr. Duler said. He said the company has "a great brand" but could operate better with the backing of a larger company.

Mr. Duler declined to name the companies with which it is discussing a sale, or to name the investor who backed out. He said a final announcement would be made this week.

Esurance is a managing general agent that sells insurance products on the Web sites of banks, credit card companies, and other financial firms, as well as through its own site at

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