Defy Media, a company known for its portfolio of digital brands including SMOSH and Clevver, is closing down operations while actively selling off its brands. Every employee, except for a small team to help with that process, has been laid off, a rep from the company told TheWrap.
“Regretfully, Defy Media has ceased operations today. We are extremely proud of what we accomplished here at Defy and in particular want to thank all the employees who worked here. We deeply regret the impact that this has had on them today. These are some of the best people in the world in creating digital programming and building audiences around it,” the rep said. “Without them, brands like Clevver, Smosh, and AweMe could not have built up over 75 million YouTube subscribers and 120mm social media followers. Unfortunately, market conditions got in the way of us completing our mission. Our main focus right now is to find homes for these great brands and people so that they can continue to thrill and delight their millions of viewers with as little interruption as possible.”
Earlier this year, Defy Media laid off 8 percent of its staff as a result of restructuring within its product/tech, creative services, and programmatic advertising departments. The layoffs came at the end of a two-year attempt by Defy to find a buyer willing to pay upwards of $150 million for the company, multiple people with knowledge of the situation told VideoInk at the time.
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Since that time, Defy has sold off several of its brands, including Screen Junkies, which has over 6 million subscribers on YouTube, andThe Escapist, its gaming-centric digital property. The company has also been accused of not paying out some of its publishers.
Complaints of missed payments first surfaced on Twitter in April and quickly multiplied as the months went on. Publishers that are owed money say that the company has had little-to-no communication with them over the issue. Publishers that have been impacted by the lack of action have created a forum on Reddit to keep track of the amount of money that Defy owes, which is now more than $250,000.