In a startling announcement this morning, Broadband Interactive Group (BIG), the parent company of Bluetorch.com, laid off approximately 64 people consisting of parts of its events staff and all of its Internet and magazine publishing group. The move was made to dedicate the company’s effort torward Bluetorch’s television programming.
“There have been significant layoffs,” says Kevin Flanagan, VP of marketing. “What we’re trying to do is get a quicker, clearer path the profitability. The web site will continue, but it will not be as robust as it’s been. It will be a support for the television show. Part of what we’ve done here today is shift resources to where we see our strengths. This is the most effective way to become profitable.”
Flanagan added that the television production group will be adding 34 positions in the near future. All layed off employees were encouraged to apply for those positions is they were so inclined.
The move will certainly rock the rest of the action-sports Internet world, an area that’s been aggressively expanding and hiring staff from all parts of the industry for almost a year now.
The news came in the form of a meeting called at 9:00 a.m. September 11, 2000. BIG CEO C.J. Olivares brought the entire staff into a room and told them he had two lists. If employees names were on one list, they were to report to the building next door. If their names were on another list, they were to stay in the room.
All the employees who were let go were told to empty their offices and leave the building by 2:00 p.m. They were given two month’s salary and six month’s insurance as a severance package.
For other Internet companies, the news hits home hard. “Anytime there’s a failure in the Internet world, it’s not a happy day for any of us,” said Jim Kempton, Hardcloud.com’s vice president of media. “Failure is something that hurts everyone.”
At least one former Bluetorch worker left the building with his sense of humor intact. In the lobby, on a white board that formerly welcomed new employees to the company someone had scralled the words, “Broadband Interactive Group says beat it kooks and don’t let the door hit you in the ass.”
Bluetorch was founded in 1999 to cover the action and adrenaline sports on TV, the Internet, in magazines, and through live events. Its show Bluetorch TV is on Fox Sports, and it owns and produces such events as the Bluetorch and Gotcha Tahiti Pro, Panasonic Shockwave Beach Games, and the Gillette Slide and Ride Tour. Affected magazines include Wave Action, Pit Bodyboard, Wakeboard, and MX Rage.