Bust-Outs and Layoffs: Apple, NBCU, Nokia, Spot Runner, WildTangent


adfutures_smaller.jpgADOTAS – The online landscape is littered with fleeing executives and pink slips today.

Apple’s senior vice president Tony Fadell is leaving, according to reports. He will be replaced by IBM honcho Mark Papermaster. Fadell leads the iPod’s development team and is widely credited with coming up with the idea for the wonder-product in the first place.

George Kliavkoff, chief digital officer at NBC Universal, and the man behind the wildly popular Hulu is leaving, opting out of the last year of his contract with the company.

Mobile titan Nokia is slashing 600 positions from its roster, primarily in the marketing and sales departments. Nokia will also shutter the site Turku by January of 2009. It said it hopes to shuffle Turku’s 220 employees to other areas of the company. Nokia’s Q3 earnings were down 28% year-over-year.

Online mom-and-pop ad shop Spot Runner has laid off 115 people, or 30% of its staff. Three months ago, Spot Runner fired 50 workers. In March, the company acquired local ad company Weblistic – that division will reportedly be downsized.

Casual gaming coming WildTangent has shut down its internal development team (comprised of about 20 employees or 20% of its total workforce). WildTangent’s cofounder Alex St. John stepped down as CEO but remains on board as chairman. Mike Peronto, the erstwhile COO, has slipped on the CEO mantle.


  1. Spot Runner is a sinking ship. While the CEO, Nick Grouf states that they have plenty of money in the bank, the fact remains that the money is not revenue earned from sales. The money came from investors hoping that Spot Runner turns out to be the “google” of TV Advertising. (It turns out Spot Runner is not the Google of TV Ads).

    Weblistic sold their business for 22,000,000 pieces of worthless stock options from Spot Runner. Basically Spot Runner bought that company for nuthn’ and can sell it for a profit, while the management team at Weblistic should be blamed for that downfall. They should have done their proper due diligence.

    Unfortunately for Spot Runner, Nick Grouf and his management team are eating and drinking their own hype. Back in 2007, Nick had stated that they wouldn’t sell out to a bigger company like Google, because he already had two successful ventures underneath his belt. His thought process was that he could make his own company bigger and better. Unfortunately his management team was a cobbled-together group of has-been Yahoo employees with too much vision and not enough implementation.

    They took on too much venture capital and came to the conclusion that they couldn’t actually make their company earn much money, so they’d resort to buying up a bunch of smaller companies, and hoping those would earn money (under the guise of “synergy”). And in the case of Weblistic, that didn’t seem to go too well.

    With the work force reportedly decreased by over 40% from the last couple months of lay-offs and “restructuring”, there likely is not a clear strategy to make a turn around.

    Spot Runner never earned much money. And no matter who they partner with, they never will. All they do is buy TV commercials for a discount and resell it for a small upcharge. They have already proven to the investors that SMBs is not where the revenue stream exists. The news with Weblistic proves that they cannot earn a dime with local searches. Therefore what is left? Only International and National Accounts.

    The funny thing is that National Accounts can already successfully negotiate with broadcast and cable TV markets, so they don’t need Spot Runner. Selling TV commercials to International audiences is unproven and likely to fail as well with Nick and his management team steering the Titanic to failure.

  2. I think that CheapTVSpots already covers national advertisers as well as local, and does it better and for less than Spotrunner. Why does Spotrunner still exist? It’s like a walking zombie of Web 2.0 isn’t it? I’d like to hear from more current or former employees about their real situation stripped of their communications manager’s spin.


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