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Vudu Debunks Rumors of Demise

The developer of IP-based video on demand just laid off 15-20% of its work force and is changing some product strategies, but Vudu says it is 'doing very well'


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Rumors of Vudu’s demise are greatly exaggerated … if you believe Vudu.

The start-up developer of IP-based video on demand is “doing very well in CEDIA [custom electronics channel] and retail,” says Tony Miranz, a Vudu co-founder in charge of sales and business development.

Rumors began swirling yesterday at RemoteCentral.com after several Vudu employees—including Patrick Cosson, a co-founder and former VP of marketing – were dismissed. At the same time, dealers said they were caught in voice-mail hell and told that Vudu would only provide tech support via email.

Couple that with the fact that several reps have done poorly with the line, and it’s no wonder that the rumor mill was churning.

I went over the rumors one by one with Mark Donnigan, national dealer channel manager for Vudu. Most of the allegations are completely wrong, he asserts.

Furthermore, Vudu has plans to launch exciting new services at CEDIA 2008, including more HD titles, HD over component video, and a lifetime warranty on downloaded content.

Rumor 1: Rampant Layoffs

It is true that Vudu recently laid off several staffers, including Cosson and Jez Hildred, formerly AV channel marketing manager.

But layoffs were nowhere the numbers suggested by rumor mongers, who estimated that up to 32 people were sacked. Donnigan and other reliable sources say that 16 to 18 of Vudu’s 100ish employees were let go.

Donnigan says that the layoffs were “just a normal process” for a startup that has expanded so quickly. “We just have to figure out how to get back on track in terms of spending.”

The official word from Vudu is this:

It is the normal course of business for fast growing startups to align resources to meet market opportunities. We are focusing on expanding distribution in retail as well as specialty AV partners and on broadening our product offering. We are aggressively hiring to support our market and product line expansion. We will continue to be aggressive in aligning resources to drive growth and to meet our business objectives.”

Indeed, the company lists 19 open positions on its Web site – mostly technical positions, but four are listed in sales and marketing.

Rumor 2: Discontinued Phone Support for Dealers

Dealers and reps have reported that Vudu discontinued telephone-based support for dealers, and that all support would be provided solely through email.

“Not true at all,” says Donnigan. “I can absolutely confirm that.”

Although there seems to have been layoffs in the customer support area, Donnigan insists that dealers have not been relegated to email-only support.

He points to the ongoing efforts of Casey Benjamin, a senior tech support guy formerly from Kaleidescape. “He is highly regarded by dealers,” says Donnigan.

Donnigan concedes, however, that “for other segments of our business we will probably transition to email only, like for consumers.”

In fact, Donnigan says, the dealers that complained about phone support might simply have been caught up in Vudu’s transitioning its consumer-oriented support. During the switch, he explains, dealers might have called and got the wrong message.


  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]

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