Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lights Out For ZillionTV (literally)

Down for the count... Stick a fork in it folks, rumors have it that the once (and very allegedly) illustrious ZillionTV is shutting its doors for good. According to several former employees, ZillionTV started off 2010 with mandatory unpaid "time off" for some employees and money was so tight that they went without heat during the cold winter months, bill collectors knocking at the door, multiple lawsuits and many employees are still owed lots of wages and expenses. According to a lawsuit filed by a former contractor, Qwest Communications invested $10 Million in the start up in February 2009 along with what appears to be many tens of millions of dollars from Sierra Ventures. It's also rumored that VUDU and ROVI signed Zillion as a content provider for content that was never delivered.

According to a series of blogs by a former (and apparently disgruntled) employee, founders and partners Mitch Berman and Ben Silva were "not particularly known for their honesty" and before Ben Silva was charged with 10 counts of fraud from the SEC, now Mr. Silva appears to be the "Sales VP for Communications, Media and Entertainment" for a company called Telairity. Not even sure what that title means, but it sounds really, really important and maybe it will distract everyone from the SEC charges and failed ZIllionTV.

The company did not return my calls for comment and appear to have abandoned their offices. Is this a sign of things to come for set-top boxes who have hung their hats on the over-the-top business models that still have yet to make sense? Or is it more evidence that karma's a bitch when you're "not completely honest?"