With Tens of Millions in Debt, Cloud Gaming Firm OnLive Barely Survived
August 23, 2012 1:52 PM
comment(s) - last by
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
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
, 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. (
), HTC Corp. (
), and Autodesk, Inc. (
)) 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.
Silicon Valley Mercury News
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8/23/2012 4:24:48 PM
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.
"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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