This is a spectacular crash because the young company — which offers mobile entertainment targeted to young people — swallowed more than $360 million in venture backing. To raise so much cash was risky — as we’d pointed out back in March, when Amp’d had raised its last $107 million — because other such networks have struggled. ESPN’s network, for example, shut down. These so-called “mobile virtual network operators” are tough to pull off because they don’t own their own spectrum, but resell services using the network of other mobile phone operators. Branding is hard to create, given the dominance of established carriers.
Amp’d had boasted strong growth, with around 200,000 subscribers, and revenue, but not enough to cover the costs to run the service. Still, the company says on its web site that it is negotiating with one of its lead investors to restructure, and that is confident that it will emerge “stronger than ever” because of high demand.
One mind-boggling fact about this company is that it has 20 board members.
Among the investors are Columbia Capital, Heights Capital Management, Highland Capital Partners, Qualcomm, Quilvest Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Rho Ventures, TELUS Ventures, Tudor Investments, and Universal Music Group. Hedge fund Old Lane Cayman Master Fund LP led the most recent round.
According to the WSJ:
According to legal documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, Amp’d Mobile has total assets of less than $100 million but is more than $100 million in debt. It owes Verizon Wireless, its largest creditor, about $33 million; its handset provider, Motorola Inc., about $16 million; one of its investors, Vivendi SA of France, about $10 million; and one of its retailers, BestBuy Co., about $8 million.
Amp’d Mobile leases access to networks of Verizon Wireless, a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC of the United Kingdom, and markets voice and other services under its own brand