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Investors will only get 5 to 10 percent of what they paid back from the negotiated purchase/debt absolution

Joel Weinberg, CEO of Insolvency Services Group, shed some light on cloud gaming service provider OnLive's recent financial plight.  He commented to the Silicon Valley Mercury News, "It was a company that was in dire straits. It only had days to live in terms of cash flow and the like.  Something had to be done immediately or there would have been a hard shutdown, which would have been a disaster."

OnLive has received some criticism for moving some of its IT employees at its five data centers -- located in California, Georgia, Illinois, Texas, and Virginia -- to lower-paid contractor positions, and laying off a handful of other employees.  Still, based on Mr. Weinberg's accounting, it was lucky all of the employees weren't released and the business fully liquidated.

According to him, OnLive owed creditors between $30M USD and $40M USD in debt that was about to mature, and it had no means of paying that bill.

But instead of liquidation, his firm negotiated a purchase by venture capital investors Lauder Partners, who previously had held a small stake in OnLive.  Under the "Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors" (ABC) -- an alternative to bankruptcy -- the creditors and institutional investors (who included AT&T, Inc. (T), HTC Corp. (TPE:2498), and Autodesk, Inc. (ADSK)) received a fractional return on their respective stakes in exchange for forgiving the insolvent firm's debt.  Mr. Weinberg says the expected payment to the debtors is approximately 5 to 10 cents per dollar earned.

OnLive narrowly avoided liquidation. [Image Source: Engadget]

That's the risk of venture capital, particularly pricey cloud-computing schemes, it seems.

The good news for OnLive subscribers is that the firm retains all its intellectual property so it is at no legal risk, and it expects to have no down-time from the transfer of assets to the new Lauder Partners-owned subsidiary.

In his interview, Mr. Weinberg declined to discuss how much Lauder Partners paid or whether their were alternative bids.

Source: Silicon Valley Mercury News

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It just wasn't quite there...
By BugblatterIII on 8/23/2012 3:23:10 PM , Rating: 3
On my PC on a 50" TV the picture quality just wasn't good enough.

On my 10" tablet it should have been, but it seemed that they used even less bandwidth for phones and tablets. Might be ok on a small phone screen but on a tablet it looked awful.

Also I couldn't use my PS3 controller on the tablet. The tablet supported it but OnLive didn't. On-screen controls suck. I didn't try the PS3 controller on the PC but I suspect only their own controller was supported.

So for these reasons I never bothered becoming a subscriber.

It's quite a good way to trial a game before buying it if there's no demo version. You don't need to pay in order to do that though, so again they never got any money out of me.

These issues aren't insurmountable, especially if they switched to the new x265 codec.

RE: It just wasn't quite there...
By DesertCat on 8/23/2012 4:15:24 PM , Rating: 3
I tried it out once because they were the only way I could do a trial version of a particular PC game. I liked the game well enough to purchase, but not from OnLive. As you mention, the resolution was pretty crappy, and that was on my 23" screen. If I'm putting my cash on the counter, I would prefer to see the game run at the highest resolution that my PC can handle, not some low-res version that is more convenient for OnLive to stream.

By kattanna on 8/23/2012 4:07:19 PM , Rating: 3
Something had to be done immediately or there would have been a hard shutdown, which would have been a disaster."

so investors lost $30-$40 million in a bid to continue to run a company that doesnt appear to have a hope of making money?

how is that NOT a disaster?

RE: ???
By ritualm on 8/23/2012 8:41:27 PM , Rating: 2
Dotcom 2.0.

By BifurcatedBoat on 8/23/2012 5:28:51 PM , Rating: 4
This was an easy failure to predict, because they were trying to replace something that was better with something worse.

Their tech isn't worthless though. There are a number of good uses for this. I would refocus and use the tech to enable local intranet gaming over WiFi and ethernet.

For some reason, with the cloud, there's been this push to leapfrog from everything being done on-device straight to having it done in a dataserver somewhere on the internet, even though that's not a sensible jump for many applications.

The smart step would be to stream content to your mobile device from your desktop machine using your local network, where latency and bandwidth conditions are far better.

By FITCamaro on 8/23/2012 5:51:39 PM , Rating: 2
The bankruptcy was nothing more than a "get out of debt free" card. Saw it the moment I saw the news.

RE: Yup
By TSS on 8/24/2012 8:37:32 AM , Rating: 2
Heh, be glad that's still possible at all in the US. It's getting harder and harder to get rid of debt.

My .02
By gamilonman on 8/23/2012 4:24:48 PM , Rating: 2
I tried Onlive out of curiosity, but with a high end PC and laptop, the experience was inferior in pretty much every way to playing the old fashioned way. The ability to jump in quickly to games without download/install, to save in their cloud, and to watch others games was cool and worked well. I found the service more useful for my kids. I have 3 kids with low - mid spec machines, and for them Online lets them run games at better quality than they otherwise could. Looking out for sales, I was able to pick up a couple of kid friendly games (Lego Batman was one I remember) at good prices, that look and play well. I believe they are playing at 1280x1024 resolution.

Overall, I think the technology is impressive and works pretty well, all things considered, and is a good option for playing games if you don't want to invest in a new PC or want a console. I think it is more limited by issues unrelated to Onlive such as carrier limitations, latency, data caps and throttles than anything else. FWIW, I have a Uverse fiber connection at 18/1.5 and it worked really well. A friend has a "10m" wireless connection in a rural area, and it doesn't work at all there.

There is a place for streaming gaming technology, and Onlive 1.0 helped break that ground and should be commended for it - it is tough to be an innovator.

Seemed like a bad idea...
By djdjohnson on 8/23/2012 4:33:04 PM , Rating: 2
When OnLive first announced what they were doing, it seemed like a bad idea that wouldn't ever fly. Surprise!

I think they stand at least as much of a chance at success with the OnLive Desktop product. At least until a decent selection of apps are available for Windows RT. Then that product could seriously be in trouble too.

By titanmiller on 8/23/2012 6:53:43 PM , Rating: 2
This is the first time I've ever heard of Onlive so I downloaded it. I'm actually quite impressed! I'm not a gamer by any stretch, but this is really cool!

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