Spot Runner Reorganizing

ValleyWag posted rumors about layoffs at SpotRunner and related financial trouble. PaidContent spoke to Spot Runner and apparently got the straight story:

Company spokesperson Rosabel Tao, VP of corporate communications, told me that the layoffs constitute about 10 percent of its employees, but at the same time, it is hiring another 40 employees in various positions, so will come out about the same as before. The reason? Tao says earlier this year, the company started to reorganize itself along three business lines. The company started as a TV ad seller using online, focused on small businesses, but has grown from there and added online/search, radio and other local sales channels to its portfolio.

SpotRunner has raised a total of more than $100 million from investors. The company also purchased Weblistic (to which I had served as an early advisor) in an effort to add search marketing.

I have followed this company since before launch and have been impressed by the foresight and polish of some of their efforts and the general “smarts” of the leadership. But I’ve also seen them fail to capitalize early enough on a few trends.

Spot Runner is more like Google or Yahoo in many respects than it is like a yellow pages publisher, with a SMB sales channel. Accordingly, it’s had some of the same channel struggles in reaching the SMB market that Google and Yahoo have. Other than reading these aforementioned posts it’s not clear to me whether the company is that interested in the market anymore (I’ve asked for a comment). For some time it has been also working with its large agency investors to localize national advertising.

Spot Runner has also diversified into a range of other media (from its original emphasis on cable TV). The comany was really the first to attempt to make video affordable for SMBs and built an impressive platform to manage distribution of that video on cable. However it now has more than a dozen competitors in the online video segment.

As Rafat Ali points out in his post (PaidContent) next year may bring more economic pain (let’s hope not) and that may test Spot Runner among scores of others. However, as something of a bulwark against that potential pain, Spot Runner has sizable revenues from what I understand.

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23 Responses to “Spot Runner Reorganizing”

  1. pasan Says:

    this company seems to have been more “pump and dump” than anything else. Their CEO also seems to have a bad reputation for ruining companies.

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    “seems to have a bad reputation”? What’s that based on?

  3. 60frames? Says:

    peoplepc?60frames? latest and greatest….. SPOTRUNNER

  4. mdr Says:

    SpotRunner’s intention “to attempt to make video affordable for SMBs” was admirable, but their spots were still too expensive for many SMBs. A single semi-custom spot for $500 before any placement eats up a small business marketing budget pretty quickly.

  5. Greg Sterling Says:

    These revenue figures being speculated about are incorrect according to my sources.

  6. Matt Says:

    It is interesting to me that “Dale” Scholnick’s first name changes every time he writes a comment on a blog about Spot Runner.

  7. Greg Says:

    I hadn’t noticed that.

  8. 60frames? Says:

    Sounds like one of the VPs at spotrunner. D. Scholnick. He has alot of inside info. All i could tell you is David Waxman coofounder doesnt wash his hands after using the restroom……. Wonder if he washed his hands after laying off over 50 employees?

  9. Greg Sterling Says:

    Lucy:

    I was an advisor to Weblistic. I didn’t know about the SpotRunner deal until I was told after it was accomplished. I have spoken to SpotRunner as an analyst didn’t speak to them about the acquisition.

  10. The real Lucy Lieberman Says:

    In case it’s not abundantly clear from the contents, the above reply was not posted by me. Greg – if there’s anything you can do to remove my name from the post, it would be very appreciated.

  11. Spot Runner Adds to Team, Lambert Departs « Screenwerk Says:

    [...] Runner Adds to Team, Lambert Departs My last post on Spot Runner saw a range of critical remarks about the health of the company in the wake of some announced [...]

  12. Ex Runner Says:

    Dale Scholnick Says…
    “…why are approx 300 workers sticking around for sub-par salaries if they know their stock options won’t amount to diddly squat when they are fully vested?”

    Dale you are completely wrong on this one though. Unfortunately SR does pay very well. The salaries are nowhere close to sub-par. And as a matter of fact they are much more than the market rate.
    Knowing that they will not make as much outside of SR, most employees are still hanging in there until the worst happens.
    And most don’t trust in the stocks is all I know for sure.

    I thing I observed is that, the place is a goldmine for talent. Amazing talented employees. But unfortunately the talent is wasted!!!

  13. TH Says:

    Spot Runner business associate called us to talk about the advertisement business after we left messages in three months ago. Then they never called us back. Then all of the sudden they called us after three months later.
    For creditability, however, we wanted to find out the current status of big layoff. Then all of the sudden, a person hung up.
    How can they run their business if Spot Runner treats business partners like this?

  14. 60frames? Says:

    TH: part of the reog is no time for small guys. You must have had a low dollar media plan.

    EX SRunner:
    David and Nick are some of the cheapest guys I have ever met. you are lucky to have sodas at 50 cents in the kitchen.

  15. Greg Sterling Says:

    In the near future I’m going to shut down comments that attack individuals personally or use false identities to post comments.

  16. Spots On Demand Says:

    I think that attacks are to be expected at this point, so many people have invested a lot of time and effort that they have a right to become bitter. What use is a blog that doesnt allow you to vent?

  17. Greg Sterling Says:

    Telling your story is fine. I’m just not looking for fake identities (posing as current employees) or defamation.

  18. Spots On Demand Says:

    LOL I couldnt have said it better!! There was one point early in the company when we had a meeting where Nick, David, and Lucy all called in the department heads and techs. Their question was, “How can we make Spot Runner an attractive employer like Google and Microsoft?” I still giggle everytime I think about it as it was the stupidest question I had ever heard in a conference room. The typical hoots for “free food”, “ping pong”, etc etc made the rounds. Evidently they have abandoned the good employer motto and gone to chew up people and use them as aggressively as possible route. What is interesting is the amount of people bailing and out and proactively searching for something better. The cost to the company of lost productivity, slipped deadlines, and technical knowledge is going to cost WAY more than the layoffs will save. Someone needs to pickup the Harvard business 101 book and actually read it this time. My question is this, does graduating Harvard at the bottom of your class mean you can run a company better than someone at the top of their class a tthe local community college?

  19. Confused Says:

    Ex SR. You sound like you were never on board. I hope that the company finds this and tracks you down. I would sue you for whatever I could for what you are writing here. Were you management? You must be if you “know” and are telling people to “milk” it or that company projects are about to be abandoned. You sound like a bitter line employee with a bad attitude who has never been in a corporate start up.

  20. Current SR Says:

    Some drive by thoughts.

    I can confirm the Nick and David and the handwashing thing. It’s not an “always” thing. But that it’s an “ever” thing is rather gross.

    Au contraire! It’s 25 cents for a soda, not 50. The freaking snack machine is what’s 50 cents. The introduction of the machines (and therefore the nixing of free drinks) was spun such that the move was a positive thing, because now the drinks would be cold!!

    In a meeting after the layoffs, an engineer asked David if the executive staff felt the layoffs were worth it, given the astoundingly negative impact it was to have on morale. The answer was just as astonishing, effectively, “yup, totally worth it.” The phrase “position of strength” has been mocked mercilessly at the water cooler ever since.

    The exodus of smart, talented people has been alarming. SR’s always been a gold mine of talent that was unfortunately floating around on a rudderless ship. Business development, sales, several VPs and most notably the technology team–no one and no group seems immune. That people are willing to bail weeks, days shy of vest dates and in an economy as uncertain as we face today is a testament to the type of ship Nick and David run.

    Here’s to hoping those riding out the economy on the good ship SR can turn around things to some extent.

  21. see spot run Says:

    Don’t you think the investors have a right to know what is going on with their money? There’s nothing noble about keeping corporate secrets when the company is being run into the ground. Just ask someone who used to work at AIG, Lehman Brothers, Bear Sterns, or Enron. Bet they would have appreciated someone giving them some straight talk instead of honoring corporate loyalty and silence.

  22. Space Lintey Says:

    Hmmm. Too many FanBoys for Spotrunner for my comfort. Microsoft didn’t buy them, they just lost another Exec, and their competitor CheapTVSpots beats the pants off them for quality productions and lower air time rates. Spotzer, a company that copied Spotrunner does not seem to be doing very well either (I e-mailed them about air time over a week ago and still did not get an answer) and from what I’ve seen, their quality and originality are also low. Maybe canned ads don’t work very well and it’s only bloggers that have a stake in Spotrunner and Spotzer (by the wishful potential of future employment or stock options) are holding pump and dump start-ups afloat with flattering press. There is more competition on the way for Spotrunner, as everyone and his mom now makes the look-alike ads. Soon it will be Google, and when their TV ad business tanks, either by antitrust action or by customers getting wise, the only viable model that will remain is some variation of tried and true NY agency model.

  23. More Layoffs at SpotRunner? « Screenwerk Says:

    [...] more layoffs at SpotRunner “after the election.” The company did a reorg and a small round of layoffs a few months ago. Angry former employees went off very publicly in the comments on this blog and [...]

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