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Pop.com Closes Up Shop

On Tuesday, September 5, 2000, Pop.com laid off roughly 65 of its 80 person staff. Without additional comment the company released this statement: "Although the Internet continues to represent an exciting creative opportunity for us, the market has shifted dramatically since our original announcement, resulting in this being a less viable business for us. We will retain a small staff to support our creative endeavors. At this time, we have not made a decision regarding distribution of the original content we produced or acquired." The DreamWorks, Imagine Entertainment and Vulcan Ventures Website was unveiled last October with much hoopla, but never launched. Pop had made many high-profile deals with celebrities like Eddie Murphy, Steve Martin and Chris Rock. Most say the reason behind Pops failure is the lack of Net experience among the companys top-level execs. For the past few months the would-be Netcaster was searching for a buyer, so that big player Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, David Geffen, Ron Howard, Brian Graser and Paul Allen could bow out gracefully. However, sale of the company went by the wayside after talks broke down with iFilm over the price tag connected to Pop.com. Thus three days later Pop.com is no more. Billionaire Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen and his Vulcan Ventures initially invested US$50 million into the site. Sources said that Allen was disgruntled with the venture after over $10 million had been spent and no content had been launched. Pop.com said it would continue to run the movie fan site CountingDown.com, which the Web company bought this summer. Content produced for the ill-fated Webcaster could be release on CountingDown, which aired the opening sequence to DreamWorks CHICKEN RUN earlier this year, but the future of the completed content is uncertain. CountingDown currently employs 12 people. Pop was also negotiating a deal to buy UnderGroundFilms.com, but that has now been scrapped. The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER quoted one former senior Pop executive as saying that the company offered to pay laid off employees two weeks severance only if they signed an agreement not to sue the company. Most of the employees at Pop.com took pay cuts for big stock options in the now failed firm. With the downfall of Pop and Shockwaves recent refocus toward games instead of toons, the future for Internet content looks a little bleaker.

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Rick DeMott
Animation World Network
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Creator of Rick's Flicks Picks

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