After two of its reporters were detained by North Korea in a relatively high-profile incident last month, the startup got criticized (whether justified or not) for remaining deafeningly silent over the matter even when it became clear the arrested journalists were not going to get off easily. Only last Friday we reported that the state of the economy forced Current Media – often referred to as Current TV – to pull its $100 million IPO.
Today, word got out that the company has lost its Chief Technology Officer Steven Blumenfeld (former VP of Technology at AOL) to a relatively unknown startup called Sparkplay Media, a venture-backed company readying the launch of a free, three-dimensional MMOG called Earth Eternal. Keep an eye on that one.
We should note that Blumenfeld apparently left Current Media a while ago and joined the ranks of freelance consultants for a couple of months before joining Sparkplay and at Current was swiftly replaced by ex-Yahoo exec Ofer Shaked. It’s even possible Blumenfeld was part of the big lay-off round Current did last November, when the company slashed 60 jobs and dropped its staff to about 400 employees, although his LinkedIn profile suggests he left prior to that.
Founded in 2005, the startup raised relatively little to get started ($15 million) but ultimately launched as a cable TV network/online media outlet after acquiring Newsworld International for reportedly close to $80 million. When it filed for the – now pulled – IPO in the beginning of last year, it quickly became clear that the company was burning money fast and revenues were below par. Since then, the company has been fairly silent about its financial health, and the canceled IPO has likely dealt it another blow after the job cuts late last year.
Judging by its website traffic, at least according to Compete and QuantCast, its audience seems to be shrinking fast. Both peg the visitor rates to have dropped significantly since peaking in November last year, estimating it received less than half the visitors on its website than it did 6 months ago.