Motricity May Slash As Many As 200 Employees; May Move To Bellevue: Report

100 Comments

Updated: We have two more updates on this story, here and here. Layoffs announcement may come as early as next week.

Motricity, one of the biggest mobile content and applications firm in U.S. now after the buyout of Infospace’s mobile division last year, may now slash as many as 200 jobs out of its workforce of 650, reports WRAL, citing sources. Motricity is also considering moving its headquarters out of Durham, NC to Bellevue, Wash, where Infospace’s mobile unit was based.

This comes after a big round of funding as well, where it raised $185 million, out of which $135 million was used to finance the acquisition. The round was led by Advanced Equities, Carl Icahn and New Enterprise Associates. Steve Elfman, former EVP of InfoSpace

100 Comments

StillThere

And the first delusional idiot responds.

It's just a job. It's what you make of it, and it is _your_ responsibility to look out for yourself. Have some pride, for god's sake. Your feigned indignity is comical.

whostolemycigar

We agree with StillThere completely and think that Ryan is an outstanding leader.

Sincerely,
Fidel Castro, Kenneth Lay and Kim Jong Il

StillThere

Any who is surprised or indignant about this rather obvious chain of events is either woefully ignorant, sheltered, or patently obtuse.

Anyone who fell for that "Community" BS, or feel like they have been somehow wronged, has no business in this business. If you wanted a to "make a difference", you should join the Peace Corps. They will love your unrealistic, touchy-feely self there.

Corporations exist for the sole purpose of propagating themselves. They have no soul and no conscience, and are not legally required to . You can either accept that and roll with the changes or move on, or you can end up like some of the sadly bitter posters above.

tootie

You guys are just sour grapes!!!! Motricity is THE PREMIER COMPANY IN THE TRIANGLE!!!! Ryan would NEVER abandon us!!!!!!!!!

Gore

I can't imagine many people are surprised by this – Motricity has never been profitable, and they've long been overstaffed. The organization has been burning VC money on their unprofitable ringtone business for a while now, neglecting or selling off small, moderately profitable divisions in the process. One can only assume they were laser-focused on a flashy IPO to turn things around, but as the economy continues to sour and their VC reserves continue to dwindle that seems increasingly unlikely.

It doesn't take an MBA and a slick haircut to figure out that Motricity's strategy has always been – at best – a long shot. It's tempting (and generally valid) to blame upper management for the company's problems, but remember that one always takes on a certain degree of risk when choosing to work at a startup (especially one that had received as many rounds of VC money as Motricity). If anything, I'm surprised they've managed to maintain their current staffing level as long as they have.

To those who are angry with the company for the layoffs, I express my sympathy, but I have to agree with RangerRick here – you had to know the bus was coming for a while now, and you've had a lot of time to get out of its way. If it's any consolation, I don't know a single former employee who regrets leaving the company.

Shlomoe

Here's the deal. Carl Icahn invested $150M in Motricity in 2006. He's going to want his money back, and is going to do what it takes to get his money back. How do you become profitable when the money you have coming in isn't very high? You cut your burn rate. Drastically. How do you do that? You cut your work force, and other operating costs. Is it too little too late? Probably. With the amount of money Motricity has raised ,how is it ever going to have an IPO? All the investors are going to want their money back. If they get to point where they feel they won't get their money back, they'll cut their losses and close Mo's doors. Even if they do manage to IPO the stocks that us grunts got years ago will be worth practically nothing. There's literally millions and millions of stocks issued at Motricity. Subtract out how many you've been promised. Knowing that the executives and board directors got a LOT LOT LOT more than you, how much do thing yours will be worth? This layoff should not be a surprise to anyone. I saw the writing on the wall since the end of '06, and got out. All the extra hours, blood, sweat, and tears is to make someone else a lot of money, not yourself.

RangerRick

I got out long ago, when it was clear that Motricity's goal was not to become a profitable company with a strategy, but to instead have "strategery" and just grow and "partner" until somehow they became a black hole into which all mobile money would somehow get sucked. Good plan! At least the "sucking" part worked. ;)

To any remaining employees who are somehow angry that Motricity threw them under the bus, all I can say is among all of the ex-Motricity-employees *I* know, we're all amazed you stayed standing in the street in the first place.

Wow just found this..

All I can say is…WOW!

A friend emailed me about the layoffs and then Google found this blog… Definitely some wild stuff here.

David Webb, my memory is failing though your name sounds familiar. I left Mo in, wow, has it been almost two years now, 03/2005.

If you are the David Webb I am thinking of shoot me an email at kenny.west@tx.rr.com

exmoemp21

another one here… thankfully long gone from Mo[nstrosity]

Re: "…Wonder where the $350m went?"

A few quesses
~ Wuerch was I heard pulling down something like $350,000 plus extremely generous perks package (betting it included car, country club, etc.)
~ Wuerch's wife was (never could figure out what she did) being paid something North of $120,000
~ Heard once that company made a zero or extremely low interest loan to him so he could build his 15,000 square foot mansion of a house. Guessing in the range of $2-$3 million
~ Coach not good enough? Try first class not good enough, he had a taste for private lear jets and the like, figure $10k per flight on the low side.
~ Tobbacco complex offices, renovation, etc. Had to be at least $25 million. Probably more.
~ Bonuses, had not heard that they got any but would surprise me if they did not award them
~ Hiring people with big sign on bonuses and salaries almost solely for the wow factor it would give in a press release saying "So and so has been hired as VP/SVP of XXXX" even though they have returned nada…

And almost forgot, the $25 in paint and labor to put up sign and paint the one and only reserved parking space, for his holiness of course. PRICELESS

David Webb

That guy Wuerch thinks he's Carl Icahn — just wait until Carl Icahn puts Ryan's balls in that vice — dude won't recover. He'll be bagging groceries at the Piggly Wiggle or whatever that redneck supermarket chain is called down there.

Wuerch Reality

I agree ExMo…this board of Directors has been asleep at the wheel for an uncomfortably long amount of time. It's unlike anything I have ever seen.

I swear… this company, its odeyssey and flame-out is worthy of a blockbuster screenplay. Can you just see a John-Edwards-like CEO serving up plattitudes and Kool-aid, making lots of young people believe they were in the presence of something big and impactful? The "Sermons on the Mount" outside the Meridian Parkway offices while standing on the curb? The behind-closed-doors screaming rages at Admins, leadership and the countless thousands of "VP's" strolling the hallway. (Have you ever in your life seen a company with more "VP" title's?)
The vision I won't forget is the lunches being wheeled down the hallways each day with the domed lid and crystal glasses. Wonder where the $350m went?

Yeah let the Wuerch "whitewash" machine sanitize this board and shut it down and come hunt for me. It's a free country. He just can't handle the truth.

Karma is and does indeed rhyme with "Witch…"

exmoemp

To "Wuerch Reality", sadly you and I had the same experience. In fact I think I can guess who your boss was and you are right; he was a great guy. Would be great if I knew how to contact you though not comfortable posting my contact info here in fear of being contacted by Wuerch's attorneys and being threatened with a lawsuit for XXXXXXXXXXXXXX.

Sadly, Wuerch lives in a place where he does not see any of this. No matter how many people might tell him the story "The emperor has no clothes", he will never see how it fits him to a tee. I had forgotten about his incessant name dropping, nice one! I always took his rants about "CEO Mentality" and thought too bad that HE did not have CEO SKILLS. Especially loved the story about how he predicted the mobile economy while visiting with the CEO of Best Buy on a yacht that Wuerch had rented and thrown a party on. Sheesh…

It was unbelievable how he spent the millions on the new offices when the company was not even close, nor as far as I could tell on track, to being profitable.

For the poor souls who have stock, whether they drank the kool-aid or not, the sad fact is they will in all likelihood never see a dime. The only way anyone with common stock will see any money is if they do an IPO, though it is more likely that pigs will begin flying out of our butts. My predictions?

– Icahn will have him ousted and then sell to a competitor
or
– Bankruptcy

I also predict that the Wuerch PR machine is watching this thread and they are already working on ways to shut down this thread. They have I think done this to other negative blog postings about him in the past, as evidence try and find some negative comments about him via blogs. They have existed though none for very long.

There are some smart people with the VC's that have invested in Mo, surprised they have not ousted him already, maybe Wuerch's golden parachute is too much to swallow?

Wuerch Reality

Yeah – I was one of the "gang of 14" that got fired in 2006. (The gold rush of firings that happened while on the way to becoming the "Google of Mobile")

It was a happy, sunny day, as I recall. Wuerch looking at me from across the table while HR idiots hid behind the famous "big, white folder." I recall sitting there after 12 months of smacking my forehead trying to figure out how the doors stayed open being HAPPY about being set free from an environment that never added up, never made sense and was RIPE with deadwood employees walking the hallways. I remember Mr. "Holier Than Thou" commenting on how he was "sorry for my children" for letting me go and that he had "prayed for me" the night before; he and the Trophy Wife, I am sure, down on bended knees on a velvet padded altar in the bedroom-you-can-land-a-plane-in with nary a square inch without adornment of pictures of himself.

Yes he was sorry for me alright. Sorry for firing my incredible boss who was the only guy who made sense, for making me eat my lunch on china cause-he-couldn't-handle-food-in-paper-bags during his "Castro-esque 4 hour staff meetings," for making us endure 2 hours of useless blather about his "CEO Mentality," for watching powerpoint presentations on the same nonsense we looked at 4 months prior, for the insane 4 am flaming emails he liked to send out when he had either a compliant, or question, or god forbid, a new idea, for hearing the ENDLESS name dropping of who he "had lunch with," "met with" "had dinner with" and each person was a famous CEO, CMO, EVP, President or other "big sounding title" that he felt necessary to bring up.

And sure, I'll bet he was really shook up when he had "Mr. Smithers," his right hand guy escort me out because they didn't want to interupt the HR Idiots while they packed my office, broke my favorite lamp, threw away my files and folded pictures of my kids in half. Yeah, I am sure he lay awake about it for days.

Welcome to the "Real World" Mr. Wuerch…

Bernadette

If you guys and girls who have been 'released from duty' know how to run Motricity, why don't you set up a rival site. Any mobile content provider like ourselves is waiting for new channels to sell to different countries.

exmoemp4

C'mon – is anyone that suprised here. If you had any connection with Motricity you could have seen this coming over a year ago starting with the ringtones on TV debacles (you know the channels). Constantly in jeopardy of losing clients, NEVER delivering anything on time, all the lavish spending. Always chasing the shiney new penny. ALL sizzle and no substance – they just sat back and hoped they could ride the "mobile" wave, go public and get fat, rich and happy. All at the hands of the business and it's employees. Yep – that's "CEO Mentality" at it's finest.

That place has left a trail of "ex-employees" like no other company in the Triangle! They are probably moving because their reputation is so bad that no one with half a brain would ever go work there. Any guess on how many "ex-employees" there are? Quit and fired.

exmoemp3

emoemp2 hit the nail on the head by using the word "preach". Ryan is the single most sanctimonious, over religious holier than thou, self serving meglomaniac I have ever met. He used motricity and all the people he screwed for his own self indulgence and to massage his massive ego. PERIOD. Great at getting money and kissing babies but absolutely no substance. I even heard that he used to start all meetings with a prayer, fine by me but not good business nor when many employees are of other faiths.

Could have been a GREAT company with someone who knew what they were doing and did not spend the money like it was their own.

exMoEmp2

Way to take care of the people who got you to where you are huh? What happened to everyone's families mattered , how much Motricity was dedicated to Durham and NC? Maybe Ryan should be running for President, would fit right in with the other two-faced politicians. Very sad actually, it had the makings of a great company, somehow greed always wins out. No matter how much you preach.

exMoEmp thank god!!!

From what my team was told, there aren't any cuts happening in Seattle, just Durham. Ryan has sold out every employee in Durham including his executive team. I'm sure he won't face any employees during the cuts….He'll let Lord Elfman take the blame.

exMoEmp

Actually, bus might be reasonably accurate. He was I remember a big fan of the book "Good to Great" and constantly quoted the section about who you are on the bus with. Albeit, Wuerch was probably on a different bus, more like those huge luxury Prevost models like movie stars have. Which would be fitting considering his ex Miss America trophy wife.

Cristin

Now who's being misguided and unfair? We don't have NASCAR here. We have the Orange County Speedway.

UndertheLimo

Underthebus, your comments are misguided and unfair. Ryan would never even dream of getting on a bus. You just got thrown under the limo. Besides I am sure there's plenty of work in Durham, you know, tobacco pickin', NASCAR drivin', and I hear there's a DA position over at the Justice building.

exMoEmp

One more thing… Honesty is not the Great One's (Ryan Wuerch) strong suit…

Quote: "Ryan Wuerch, a co-founder of Motricity, remains the chairman and chief executive officer of the company, sources said. "

Co-founder? CO-FOUNDER? NOT! To say he is the co-founder would be like saying that if you bought Microsoft and changed the name to [XXXXXXX] would make you the founder! ALL he found was the funds to acquire the companies which then merged are now known as Motricity. PERIOD! The real FOUNDERS of Motricity would be Jud Bowman and Taylory Brockman (Pinpoint) and Kenny West (PalmGear) as those two companies made up the ones which when merged were later renamed as Motricity.

Wonder how much longer Icahn will put up with this folly and install a new CEO…

exMoEmp

"UnderTheBus"; what bonuses are you referring to? Had not heard of any bonuses being pad..

In the end, you are right, Ryan and his inner circle will come out smelling like roses. Ryan really did not throw anyone under the bus, at least I doubt in his mind. He really believes that he has created a "culture" and that everyone loves, even idolize, him. Perfect family, trophy wife, etc. You can bet his $2 million house, paid for by Motricity, will not be at risk of foreclosure.

UnderTheBus

funny that bonuses were paid out and they decide to pull this trick. Thanks Ryan for throwing us under the bus!!! Hope your golden parachute gets a hole in it. Guess the rest of us will be doing a lot of job searching this week. Good luck "Lord Elfman" in getting anyone to do any work now. All the new releases I expect will be delayed, if they're even completed…

croatin

I recently left Motricity and it's pretty much true. After the Infospace merger was finalized it was readily apparent that it was a reverse merger. The executives at the Durham office did not know what the executive organization was going to be before it was announced to everyone. Only 2 in Durham report to Elfman. Most of his reports are from Bellvue. The new organization was supposed to be announced several weeks ago but apparently it was delayed a month. A hiring freeze was instituted end of Dec/beginning of Jan, despite "50 open reqs" in the Durham office.

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