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Summary:

Vuze has confirmed two rounds of previously unreported layoffs, which totaled 44 percent of its staff: 12 people were let go in April and another 12 in August.

A tipster reached out to us this week to tell us about layoffs at the Redwood City, Calif.-based P2P video startup Vuze, stating that the company had dismissed more than half of its workforce. Vuze subsequently confirmed two rounds of previously unreported layoffs to us, but clarified that the dismissals were not recent: 12 people were let go in April and another 12 in August. “We anticipated that the economic environment was going to deteriorate, so we decided to act proactively,” said Vuze’s V-P of marketing, John Fernandez.

Vuze has been building an ad-supported download platform for HD videos based on its BitTorrent client, which used to be known as Azureus. The company recently put the client through a major revamp, and Fernandez told me that things are looking up in terms of revenue and video views. Vuze did lose some key content partners in recent months, something CEO Gilles BianRosa recently attributed to the move away from download sales.

To date, Vuze has raised a total of $32 million in three rounds of funding from BV Capital, Greycroft Partners and others. After the job cuts, the company moved its 31 employees out of its prime office location in downtown Palo Alto, Calif., to a presumably less expensive space a few minutes away, in Redwood City. It also discontinued its work with a PR agency and instead now handles all press relations in house, another sign of cost-cutting.

Vuze’s video platform had originally started with a combination of free, ad-supported and paid downloads, with content both from niche producers as well as major TV networks. However, selling content to file sharers hasn’t been working all that well. Competitor BitTorrent Inc., which is also running a download platform for TV content, was forced to lay off part of its workforce earlier this year and has been deemphasizing its download offering in recent months. Vuze’s own web stats show that even hit shows like Weeds only generate a few hundred downloads per for-pay episode.

That’s why Vuze has been moving away from sales and towards ad-supported downloads – a move that not everyone seems to agree on. Content partner Showtime hasn’t published any new complete episodes on Vuze since April, and shows from former partners Starz and the BBC have completely disappeared from the site.

However, it looks like Vuze has been making some progress on the advertising front. Fernandez told me that Vuze’s revenue has increased five-fold since April, and that Vuze now expects to break even in 2009. He also stated that the company has seen a 30 percent increase in video views since it published version 4.0 of its client earlier this month.

  1. Here’s some advice to those out of work. Here’s 3 new job sites just added to the About.com top 10 job site list -

    http://www.linkedin.com (professional networking)
    http://www.indeed.com (aggregated job listings)
    http://www.realmatch.com (matches you to the perfect job)

    Good luck to all those searching for jobs.

  2. Vuze layoffs confirmed | Startup Meme – Technology Startup and Latest Tech News Saturday, November 1, 2008

    [...] [via NewTeeVee] [...]

  3. P2P Forum Blog » Archivio Blog » Il P2P cresce ma BitTorrent e Vuze licenziano i dipendenti Sunday, November 9, 2008

    [...] anche come riporta Newteewee, sembra sempre più intenzionata ad abbandonare i prodotti a pagamento per downloads ad-supported, [...]

  4. Unfiltered » Blog Archive » Trouble in P2P-Land Monday, November 10, 2008

    [...] apparently laid off half its staff and saw its CEO walk away.  Fellow BitTorrent-focused company Vuze apparently is shrinking as well. Both companies are pursuing the concept of using BitTorrent to deliver licensed, legitimate [...]

  5. P2P and the Economic Downturn: Hello, Browser Toolbars! « NewTeeVee Friday, November 14, 2008

    [...] of people that have been laid off. BitTorrent went to 18 employees from 55 in just four months, and Vuze recently confirmed two rounds of cuts totaling 24 people. P2P advertising startup Skyrider closed shop completely in October, and [...]

  6. Vuze Moves to the Big Screen Monday, March 23, 2009

    [...] year was a rough one for Vuze as the company went through two rounds of layoffs, losing half of its work force. In October, Vuze launched a revamped client that was aimed at both [...]

  7. Vuze layoffs half of its workforce | Job Postings – Profossor.com Wednesday, May 13, 2009

    [...] The P2P video startup, California based Vuze confirmed that they have laid off more than half of the workforce. 12 people were sent off in April and another 12 were in August.   “We anticipated that the economic environment was going to deteriorate, so we decided to act proactively,” said Vuze’s V-P of marketing, John Fernandez. Also, as a cost cutting measure, they moved the rest of the 31 employees to a cheaper office from their prime office in Palo Alto. They have also started an in-house PR and have discontinued the PR agency that they were working with.  They have raised a total of $32 million through VC funds. The revenue has been increasing recently and they are expecting to break even in 2009. Maybe, more new jobs will come up then.  Source: Newteevee [...]

  8. Vuze Looks For Money In Porn Friday, May 15, 2009

    [...] million in funding. Plans to sell rentals of major TV networks didn’t work out, and Vuze was forced to lay off 24 people last year as well as move out of its costly downtown Palo Alto, Calif., office space. And while [...]

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